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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved implementation agreement, supplemental agreement and power purchase agreement for 300MW Coal Power Project at Gwadar, and decided continuation of general subsidy on five essential items through the Utility Stores Corporation for the next six months.

An ECC meeting presided over by the Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, held on Thursday, also approved allocation of 22 MMcfd of gas to the SSGCL system from Sujjal-I, Sujawal-X-I, and Aqeeq-I wells of the Mari Petroleum Company Limited.

The Ministry of Industries and Production presented three proposals pertaining to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), and the ECC approved the first proposal regarding continuation of general subsidy on five essential items through the USC from 01.01.2021 to 30.06.2021 out of funds allocated under the Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020 in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, on the second proposal of the Ministry of Industries and Production with respect to approve re-allocation of Rs2.332 billion for the ERP procurement and IT infrastructure for automation of stock management throughout the network of the USCs, the ECC, in principle, approved the proposal with a direction to hold further consultation with the Ministry of Information Technology and the Ministry of Finance for smooth implementation.

On the third proposal regarding criteria for providing subsidy on essential items at the USC, the meeting decided that the USC would present a revised proposal after working out a specific percentage range(s) of differential from market prices for subsidizing essential commodities through the Ministry of Industries and Production before the next ECC meeting.

The percentage range(s) would serve as a benchmark for subsidising the essential commodities through the USC, keeping in view the fluctuations in the international commodity prices.

On Textiles and Apparel Policy 2020-25 moved by the Ministry of Commerce, the ECC decided to include Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Power Tabish Gauhar in the sub-committee for a detailed consultation on proposals related to the power sector which fall under the ambit of the textile policy.

The Textiles and Apparel Policy 2020-25 would be presented before the ECC in a couple of weeks.

The Petroleum Division presented a summary before the ECC to review the oil marketing companies’ (OMCs’) and dealers’ margins on petroleum products.

The ECC decided that the proposed rates for the increase would be considered after a detailed study by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

A sub-committee was constituted under the chairmanship of SAPM on Revenue, Dr Waqar Masood, including SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar and SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar as its members to evaluate the outcome of the PIDE study, and present a revised summary before the ECC accordingly.

Secretary, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony presented the Zaireen Management Policy before the ECC for consideration and said the underlying rationale is to regulate, streamline and provide better facilities to Zaireen for performing religious obligations in an organised manner.

The ECC approved the establishment of Ziarat Directorate Office at Quetta and Taftan at an estimated expenditure of Rs38.50 million.

Moreover, the ECC also considered the establishment of Ziarat Directorate Offices at Mashhad (Iran), Karbala and Baghdad (Iraq), and directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to seek formal consent/approval from the host countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ECC referred that policy to the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) for consideration with the advice that the policy may be referred back to the ECC (with recommendations) if the subject falls in the domain of the ECC.

The Committee further directed to take all provinces on board during the consultative process.

The ECC also approved a Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs42 million in favour of National Program for Enhancing Command Areas in Barani Areas (ICT Component) surrendered by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, and Governor State Bank Dr Reza Baqir.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021