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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has allowed the continuation of subsidy on five essential items – atta, ghee, sugar, rice and pulses – at the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) from February 24 to 28 and for March 2022.

The meeting of the ECC presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin was moved a summary by the Ministry of Industries and Production to the ECC regarding continuation of un-targeted subsidy on five essential commodities – atta, ghee, sugar, rice, and pulses, and after discussion, the meeting allowed continuation of subsidy.

Five subsidised essential commodities being sold at the USC were atta 20kg bag at Rs950, sugar Rs85 per kg, ghee Rs260 per kg, whereas, pulses and rice Rs15-20 per kg less than market price.

The USC continued sale of five essential items from February 1, 2022 at the USC with the objective to provide much-needed relief to a large chunk of the population that may not be benefiting from Ehsaas Programme yet.

The ECC also directed the USC to seek legal opinion from Law and Justice Ministry on continuation of subsidy on these items for initial 23 days of the February.

Essential kitchen items: Officials asked to keep an eye on prices

On a summary moved by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for withdrawal of its earlier summary for 50,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan, the ECC allowed the withdrawal of earlier summary and granted permission for already provided 6,627 metric tons of wheat worth of Rs0.67 billion to Afghanistan.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented another summary on fixation of the Passco’s wheat procurement targets along with cash credit limits.

The ECC assigned the Passco the target of 1.20 MMT of wheat with the cash credit limit (CCL) for Rs65 billion at minimum support price (MSP) of Rs1,950/40 kg. On a summary moved by the Ministry of Commerce regarding grant of regulatory support for establishing barter trade arrangements with Afghanistan and Iran, the ECC allowed regulatory cover to barter trade arrangements by amending relevant provisions of EPO 2020 and IPO 2020.

The ECC after detailed discussion allowed Ministry of Industries and Production to build strategic reserves of sugar to avoid price variation/hike in prices in future.

Federal government will purchase 0.30 million metric tons of sugar and provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh will purchase 0.20 million metric tons of sugar for strategic reserves from sugar mills in current crop year at a time when the prices are lower in the local market.

The ECC after discussion approved Supplementary /Technical Supplementary Grants: (i) Rs684.00 million ($ 3,708,323.00) in favour of the Ministry of Economic Affairs as the first installment/mobilisation advance against the disbursement schedule provided by the Nadra for the fiscal year 2021-22; (ii) Rs20 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works for Execution of Development Schemes in Sindh Province under SAP”; (iii) Rs200 million in favour of the Ministry of Housing and Works from PSDP; (iv) Rs450 million for the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination for the project “Strengthening Existing Capacity for National Institute of Health for Effective Response Against Covid-19 Pandemic in Pakistan.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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