ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has raised the minimum support price of wheat from 1350 to 1365 rupees per 40 kilogram.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the ECC held in Islamabad with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.
It was decided in view of representations from various farmers and growers’ associations as well as the Federal Cabinet and the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products which had proposed a reconsideration of the minimum support price in order to compensate the farmers.
The ECC also viewed a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on the government commodity operations which had over the years resulted in 757 billion rupees as total debt and liabilities and recommendations for reducing the debt.
The ECC also took up a proposal from the Ministry of Industries and Production for a technical supplementary grant of six billion rupees to the Utility Stores Corporation for subsidy and procurement of essential commodities.
It asked the Utility Stores Corporation to prepare within the next few days a practical and comprehensive mechanism involving use of information technology to ensure the disbursement of specific food items to the poorest of the poor.
The ECC also considered a proposal from the Ministry of Energy regarding tariff rationalization for power sector in the first quarter of financial year 2019-20 and approved a proposal for notifying the NEPRA approved quarterly adjustment of 15 paisa per unit after incorporating an additional charge of 11 paisa per unit for maintaining uniform tariff on all categories of consumers except lifeline and domestic consumers.
The increase coming into effect on December 1, 2019, for the next twelve-monthly billing cycle would not be applicable to nearly 20 million using up to 300 units per month, out of the total 30 million consumers while 600,000 of the remaining one million consumers would only pay 7 paisa per unit as a result of this increase.
The ECC also constituted a committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and comprising Minister of National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to examine the current framework of determining power tariff and make it more simple in line with the practice in mature markets. The ECC also considered a set of proposals from the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) for risk mitigation post privatisation of National Power Parks Management Company, especially the impact on fuel basket price due to non or reduced off take of 66 per cent generation under the PPA till year 2024 and cost of diversion of Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) to other sectors with workable options to mitigate the risk.
The ECC discussed the proposals in details and approved them with a proviso that any other option that could be considered as part of the mitigation plan by the Power Division could also be taken into account and approved, if found suitable, by the ECC.
To a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production, the ECC constituted an inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of Minister Planning, Development and Reforms and comprising Adviser to Prime Minister on Industries and Production, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Secretary Finance, Secretary Industries and Production and Chairman FBR for preparation of a policy framework for promotion of steel and iron in the country through foreign direct investment.