- PM Shehbaz Sharif approves formation of a special policy-making committee to promote agro-based industries, increase crop yields and export them
ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Commerce to formulate a detailed strategy to reduce imports, increase exports, and import substitution.
The cabinet briefing to media which was scheduled earlier was cancelled due to unspecified reasons.
According to the statement issued by the PM’s office, the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the formation of a special policy-making committee to promote agro-based industries, increase crop yields and export them. The committee will include the Minister of Commerce, Minister of Industries and Production, Minister of National Food Security, and secretaries of the same divisions. The prime minister directed that a meeting of this committee be convened Wednesday (May 18).
A detailed analysis was presented to the meeting by the Ministry of Commerce on the balance of trade and stated that in the first 10 months of the financial year 2021-22, the volume of exports stood at $31.2 billion while the volume of imports stood at $76.7 billion. The meeting was informed that during the same period exports increased by $4.95 billion and imports by $11.16 billion increase was recorded. During July-April of the fiscal year 2020-21 and in the same period of the fiscal year 2021-22, the volume of exports increased by 25.6 per cent while imports increased by 46.5 per cent and the trade balance increased by 64.9 per cent during the same period.
The Cabinet was informed that in order to increase exports, it was necessary to provide electricity and gas at competitive rates with other countries in the region. In addition, efforts should be made to speed up the resumption of business activities affected by the Corona epidemic. There is a need to provide incentives to investors and start-ups which can increase the volume of exports.
While explaining the reasons for the increase in imports, the Cabinet was informed that the rise in energy prices in the international market has led to an increase in the import bill. The increase in dollar prices is also one of the reasons for the increase in imports costs.
The prime minister apprised the Cabinet that the country was facing a severe heatwave, for which, a special task force has been formed under the Ministry of Climate Change. This task force will take steps to address climate change so that the threats to Pakistan can be addressed in a timely manner.
The Cabinet amendments were discussed in detail regarding the NAB amendments. Cabinet members pointed out that the NAB’s black law was used only for political revenge, harassment of government officials and the business community and bureaucracy was not taking decision because of this law and consequently the damage is done to the important issues of the country.
The Cabinet approved the formation of a committee headed by the Law Minister to amend the NAB. The committee will also include eminent personalities from the fields of advocacy, banking, bureaucracy, and others.
The Establishment Division presented to the Cabinet the report of the committee set up to review the Civil Servants (Directory Retirement from Service) Rules, 2020 and the report stated that these rules contain all the rules that are already included in the Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020. The Cabinet members said that these rules were used to put pressure on government officials, which has no legal justification. Rules cannot be made again on existing laws. The accountability process should be transparent and non-discriminatory. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the committee and approved the repeal of Civil Servants (Directory Retirement from Service) Rules, 2020. The Cabinet also approved the termination of proceedings against government officials under these rules.
The Cabinet, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Finance, approved the design of commemorative banknotes commemorating the 75th Independence Day and the establishment of the State Bank.
The finance ministry had recommended that the banknotes be printed by international printing companies at a cost of $6.64 million.
Rejecting the Finance Ministry’s recommendations, the Cabinet decided that the banknotes would be printed inside Pakistan to save the nation’s precious money.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom have made recommendations to the Cabinet to increase software exports. The Cabinet directed that these recommendations be brought before the Economic Co-ordination Committee and re-presented at the next Cabinet meeting.
The prime minister said that there are vast opportunities for investment and exports in Pakistan’s IT sector. The prime minister has set a target of $15 billion for IT exports The Cabinet ratified the decisions taken at the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee held on May 16, 2022.
The meeting ratified the ECC decision with regard to Rs52 billion for the Petroleum Division for payment of price difference claims by oil marketing companies and refineries and it will be effective for 15 days from May 16, 2022, and Trading Corporation of Pakistan imports 200,000 metric tons of urea on G2G basis for Kharif season.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022