ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has deferred approval of minimum support price (MSP) for wheat price till tomorrow (Wednesday), and formed a committee to evaluate the proposal for the increase in MSP for the 2020-2021 crops after various estimates gathered from Punjab, KPK, Balochistan, and Federal Capital, were presented.
The meeting of the ECC presided over by the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, also decided that the previous list of manufacturers or exporters declared zero-rated by the FBR (under condition (xii) of the SRO 1125) might be adopted in export-oriented sectors.
The meeting decided that the FBR might register new manufacturers or exporters of five export-oriented sectors (erstwhile five zero-rated sectors), in accordance with past precedents of STGO-117, under Commerce Division's OM No 1 (18)/2019 in manner specified by the FBR.
The FBR, Petroleum Division and Power Division may formulate periodic rechecking/monitoring/withdrawal strategy for previous and newly-registered units along with a procedure to penalise in case of misrepresentation and misuse.
On the issue of MSP for wheat, sources said, ECC was told that the Punjab had estimated Rs1,640 per 40kg cost, whereas, an Islamabad-based think tank estimated Rs1750 per 40 kg as the Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the ECC on different estimates gathered from Punjab, the KP, Balochistan and the Federal Capital, according to the Finance Ministry.
A committee was formed with Syed Fakhar Imam, Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Dr Ishrat Hussain, Dr Waqar Masood, Nadeem Baber, Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Asad Umar, and Khusroo Bakhtiar as members, to thoroughly evaluate the proposal for the increase in the MSP for wheat for the 2020-2021 crops.
A participant of the meeting said the committee would present the proposal with respect to increase in MSP of wheat to the next ECC meeting on Wednesday. The committee would also prepare a proposal on subsidy on fertilisers mainly DAP, which may be offered as a part of the package for farmers, so that their input cost is reduced.
The meeting decided that the provinces should increase wheat releases to stabilise the price of flour in the market, and the district administrations would be directed to specially monitor the prices of wheat and wheat flour in market.
Earlier, during a discussion on MSP of wheat, there was agreement on the need to increase the MSP to support farmers and encourage them to grow increased quantities in the next sowing season.
The meeting discussed the need to rationalise the prices of inputs for making them more affordable to farmers, various measures to support the rural economy as well as to increase the supply of wheat in the market to deal with the price challenge.
The meeting emphasised the need for having a better system for gathering data regarding the agriculture sector. The ECC approved, in principle, the procedure for registration under the concessionary regime of electricity, RLNG and gas under the export-oriented sectors (erstwhile zero-rated sectors) with instructions to ensure better targeting of the recipients of this subsidy.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020