ECC meeting: Wheat support price and sugar export allowance increased


Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet met on Thursday following which the support price of wheat for the next crop was increased to Rs 1200 per 40 kilogrammes against last year’s price of Rs 1050.
Under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, the members were informed that international prices of wheat were much higher which resulted in smuggling to neighbouring countries. It was brought to the committee’s notice that prices of inputs had risen during the last year and therefore to facilitate and encourage wheat growers it was essential to increase the support price. The ECC also approved the commerce ministry’s recommendation for reduction in the age limit of importing used cars from five to three years. The ECC decided that the decision will be effective from December 15, 2012 in order to facilitate the in process orders. The measure will provide relief to the local auto vendors industry which was deteriorating due to the import of used cars.
The ECC allowed export of a total of 400,000 Mega Tonnes (MT) of sugar, an increase of 64,166 MT over its previous decision. The committee was informed that there was a huge surplus of sugar in the country and a bumper crop of sugarcane was expected this year. The measure has been approved in order to improve the liquidity position of sugar mills so that sugarcane growers are paid on time at the rate fixed by the government.
The ECC further restored the agricultural tube wells subsidy in Balochistan. Under the approved procedure the tube well owners would pay Rs 6,000 per month. The federal government would pay 40 percent, and the Balochistan government 60 percent of the remaining amount. For bills over Rs 50,000, the excess would be paid by the tube well owner. The number of tube wells would remain static at 15,660. The decision will be effective from December 1, 2012. The shares assigned in the above arrangement will be reviewed after two years to lessen the burden on the federal government and transfer it onto the Balochistan government corresponding to the provincial share it receives from the divisible pool. Additionally, existing tube wells are to be replaced by solar tube wells.
In line with the National Assembly’s resolution to discontinue the weekly price adjustment system of petroleum products, the ECC decided to abandon the prevailing weekly pricing system. However, a committee comprising of ministers for law and justice, petroleum and science and technology was formed to consider and suggest a pragmatic mechanism for POL pricing that will be considered in the next ECC meeting. The ECC also considered the summary of ministry of port and shipping to strengthen the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) and to make it a vibrant national carrier. The committee decided to re-enforce the recommendations of the Kazi Committee with full force which included all public sector cargoes to be carried by PNSC and all government departments, autonomous and semi-autonomous organisations to utilise the services of PNSC for carrying their cargoes. PNSC is to act as the shipping agency for all ministries, autonomous and semi-autonomous departments of the government. Organisations like PSO, TCP and PSM should have long term contracts of shipping on a market based formula as was being done successfully with refineries.