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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has allowed Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to approach the G20 countries for extension in debt relief to Pakistan under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).

The meeting of the ECC presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, on Wednesday, allowed the EAD to proceed with the formal request for availing the G20 Debt Relief for the extended period, July-December 2021.

The meeting also allowed signing of memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with bilateral creditors in terms of the prevailing rules and regulations and Pakistan would be able to get around $1 billion if its request is approved.

The ECC, in principle, agreed to the proposal of US$1.1 billion for procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine for achieving the vaccination target with minimum 45 million and maximum 65 million people till December 2021 and decided to explore available possibilities to arrange funds for procurement of vaccine.

However, ECC approved an additional US$ 70 million for the month of June 2021. An amount of US$ 130 million was approved by the ECC on May 31, 2021 for procurement of vaccines for the month of June 2021 only and subsequent to the increased target of vaccination by the NCOC, another $50 million was required in addition to the already approved amount for the month of June 2021.

The ECC allowed the amendments in three SROs, (SRO 235 (1) 2020, 236 (1)/2020 and 237(1) 2020), dated 20th March 2020 issued by the Revenue Division to facilitate the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination for the import of Covid-19 medical and diagnostic equipment.

The ECC approved technical supplementary grants, including: (i) Rs629.203 million for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for discharging the liabilities of prime minister’s fee reimbursement scheme for less-developed areas during the current financial year; (ii) Rs378 million for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for meeting its various important requirements; (iii) Rs1162.745 million for the Finance Division for the payment of the annual maintenance fee of System Application Product (SAP) software licenses and for purchases of SAP software licenses; (iv) Rs338.637 million for the Finance Division to meet the various budgetary requirements of Department of Auditor General of Pakistan under various heads of accounts; (v) Rs350 million for the Controller General of Accounts for payments under the Prime Minister’s Package to the families of government employees who die in service and leave encashment; (vi) Rs74.135 million for meeting the marketing expenses of incentive scheme of home remittances. The chair directed that the impact analysis of this marketing scheme should be shared with the forum; (vii) Rs505 million for Housing and Works Division for the repair and maintenance of different government buildings; (viii) Rs22.176 million for the Ministry of Human Rights for meeting various employee-related expenses; (ix) Rs37.423 million for the Industries and Production Division for meeting various expenses of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority; (x) Rs82.8 million for the Revenue Division for meeting its various obligatory expenditures; (xi) Rs42.9 billion for the Finance Division for ways and means advances availed by the provincial governments; (xii) Rs105.490 million for the Ministry of Narcotics Control for the clearance of loans and advances of the Shuhada and deceased officials of the ANF; (xiii) Rs2 billion for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for meeting the financial requirements of the financially distressed universities; and (xiv) Rs12.2 million for the Ministry of Climate Change to be given to the Environmental Protection Agency to meet its various expenses.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers for Economic Affairs Division, Maritime Affairs, Power and Privatisation along with Adviser to PM on Austerity and Institutional Reforms, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, governor State Bank of Pakistan, and the federal secretaries of various ministries and divisions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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