ECC gives go-ahead to sugar, wheat import

Hamza HabibOur Correspondent

25th Aug, 2021. 07:16 pm

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday approved two summaries for import of 200,000 tonnes of sugar and 400,000 tonnes of wheat to curtail food inflation and stabilise prices.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin presided over the meeting. The ECC approved the summary tabled by the Ministry of Industries and Production for import of 200,000 tonnes of sugar for maintaining strategic reserves.

The Ministry of Industries and Production secretary briefed the committee about the previous tenders floated for the purchase of sugar in the international market. He also apprised about the cancellation of previous tenders due to the volatility in the prices of commodities in the international market, particularly due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Industries secretary also apprised that rising transportation cost and petroleum prices have contributed significantly into the international price hike in food commodities.

The finance minister took notice of the price fluctuations in the international commodities market and directed to constitute a sub-committee comprising M/o Industries and Production, Commerce, Finance Division and Law Division secretaries to hold a consultative session and work out modalities for placing tenders in the international market in a timely manner to get a most affordable price for importing food items and to save precious foreign exchange reserves of the country.

Tarin also sought recommendations for improving the overall estimation process by provinces through forecasting on a scientific basis for commodities where thde price risk is involved.

Proper estimates should be presented for import of particular food items to fulfil all formalities in a timely manner, he said.

The ECC approved import of 200,000 tonnes of sugar with immediate effect through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan and directed to workout arrangements for the remaining 300,000 tonnes of sugar through the government-to-government mode of procurement at the earliest to build strategic reserves and ensure smooth supply of sugar across the country before the arrival of the fresh crop.

Similarly, the ECC also approved the corresponding financial arrangement for the import of 200,000 tonnes of sugar during the meeting.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the ECC accorded approval to import 400,000 tonnes of wheat and directed to explore and expedite the option for importing the remaining amount of wheat through the government-to-government arrangement.

The ECC emphasised the importance of building strategic reserves in the wake of evolving situation in Afghanistan, which may affect the prices in the domestic market.

The ECC also considered and approved a request for a Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for extending humanitarian assistance to Syria in the form of edible items.

It allowed the procurement of edible items through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Pakistan Mission in Syria) 200 tonnes each of rice and flour, amounting to approximately Rs44.24 million.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a summary before the ECC to waive-off all applicable taxes/duties on the import of 12 drones donated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China for controlling desert locust in Pakistan. The committee approved the summary for exemption of all applicable duties/taxes, in this regard.

The ECC also considered and approved a Technical Supplementary Grant, amounting to approximately Rs24.555 billion ($150 million) to NDMA for the procurement of vaccine for the Covid-19, including transportation and handling charges to meet the target of 85 million population to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

Lastly, a Technical Supplementary Grant was approved in favour of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, amounting to Rs2.4 billion for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) for the FY 2021/22, as EPI is a high priority initiative of the government, which aims at immunising more than seven million children under one-year of age against 10 vaccine preventable diseases.

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