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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday decided to import 300,000 metric tons of wheat as well as approved a Rs 15.250 billion sovereign guarantee from local banks for evacuation of Power from 2x660 MW Thar Coal Based Project (SSRL/SECL).

The ECC meeting presided over by Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, was updated by Secretary Ministry of National Food, Security and Research about the import of 300,000 metric tons of wheat through Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) in compliance with the earlier decision of the ECC and stated that TCP has opened the ninth international tender. The ECC approved the summary to import the 300,000 metric tons of wheat.

The ECC also approved a summary moved by the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) regarding government sovereign guarantee against a financing facility of Rs 15.250 billion from local banks for evacuation of Power from 2x660 MW Thar Coal-Based Project (SSRL/SECL).

The meeting also considered various proposals moved by Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority (NAPHDA). The ECC was presented by Chairman NAPHDA revised eligibility criteria for selection of applicants and modalities for payment of cost subsidy and the mechanism for release of funds with reference to the special incentive package for housing and construction sector announced by the Prime Minister in July 2020.

The ECC approved the stipulated eligibility criteria and payment mechanism for cost subsidy against 100,000 housing units to be constructed during phase-I by the end of the year. The meeting urged Chairman NAPHDA to facilitate access to housing finance at affordable cost for expanding housing ownership in accordance with the vision of the Prime Minister, enabling low-to-middle income groups to avail low-cost housing facility according to their affordability.

The ECC also approved another summary of NAPHDA seeking permission to enter into negotiated procurement agreements for construction of low-cost housing through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

The meeting approved NAPHDA proposal about revision in key parameters of markup subsidy scheme for housing finance, as recommended by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to ensure maximum participation for access to quality housing at an affordable price by fulfilling a relatively relaxed eligibility criteria.

The ECC deferred Ministry of Industries and Production’s proposal regarding Late Payment Surcharge (LPS) for operation of SNGPL-based fertilizer plants between September, 2018 and November, 2019 with a direction that LPS may be calculated on the actual cost incurred and a revised proposal should be placed before the ECC for consideration.

On a summary moved by Ministry of Energy (Power Division) regarding decision of the Authority for Fuel Charge Adjustment (FCA), the ECC directed Secretary Finance and Power Divisions to further deliberate on it and present an updated proposal before the next ECC meeting.

The ECC constituted a sub-committee on a proposal moved by Power Division regarding payment of outstanding dues and settlement of tariff issues with the Azad Jammu & Kashmir government. The Sub-committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Adviser to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain; it also comprises Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Energy, Secretary Finance, Secretary Power and representatives from the Ministry of Water Resources, WAPDA, NEPRA and the government of AJK.

The ECC approved Technical Supplementary Grants;(i) Rs. 61 million to the Ministry of Railways for the completion of a project titled “Feasibility study for new rail link between Peshawar to Jalalabad through Loi Shalman valley”;(ii) Rs. 29.38 million to the National Heritage and Culture Division for the Quaid-e-Azam Academy, Karachi;(iii) Rs. 413.77 million to the Ministry of Housing and Works for renewal of lease of Garden West (Pakistan Quarters), Karachi;(iv) Rs. 233.443 million to Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) for E-Procurement System.

The ECC meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir, Secretary Finance, Secretary Power Division, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Additional Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority, Chairman BOI and other senior officials participated in the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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