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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Division is said to have expressed serious concern on submission of summaries by the Ministries during the meetings of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, which have huge financial implications, sources told Business Recorder.

These concerns were expressed during a meeting of the ECC on August 25, 2021, presided over by Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin when summaries about import of wheat and sugar were tabled, sans comments of concerned stakeholders.

Cabinet Division, in its summary as additional item, noted that the ECC observed that it is the most vibrant Committee of the Cabinet 'dealing with all important economic matters/issues every week (Wednesday) and decisions are taken in the meeting in the light of valuable inputs of the members of the forum.'

According to the Cabinet Division, members of the ECC do not regularly attend the meeting and send junior representatives for the meetings, which is a matter of great concern. The ECC; therefore, directed all members of the forum to ensure their attendance in the ECC meetings.

The ECC also observed that Ministries/Divisions bring their summaries with huge financial implications during the meeting for placement before the ECC for consideration, which is not only against the provisions of Rules of Business, 1973 but also do not provide sufficient time for deliberation by the members of the forum.

The ECC directed all Ministries/ Divisions to submit their summaries to the Cabinet Division well ahead of the meeting, to provide ample time to members to study the case/issue for making their valuable inputs thereon in the meeting.

No sugar import as per ECC decisions: Body formed to fix responsibility

Cabinet Division has made it clear that for inclusion of emergent nature of summary in the agenda of the ECC, a Ministry/Division shall seek prior approval of the Chairman, ECC by every Tuesday before 12.00 noon. Thereafter, no summary shall be entertained for placement before the ECC for consideration.

In the recent past, several Ministries have made it a routine to table its summaries during the ECC meetings, after seeking permission of Finance Minister as Chairman of the Committee, who always accommodates the Ministries in good faith.

The sources maintained such decisions taken by the ECC may land in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as many former Ministers, Secretaries and other officials are facing the anti-graft body for violation of Rules of Business 1973.

Former Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar had put a complete ban on submission of summaries during the ECC meetings and on several occasions he had retuned the summaries with the directions to the concerned Ministries to first get the comments of concerned stakeholders.

Commerce Ministry officials are also facing inquiry in the NAB for not following the decisions of ECC with respect to monitoring of sugar prices. Likewise, Power Division, Petroleum Division, Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Housing are also facing similar cases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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