ECC approves increase in wheat support price by Rs50 per 40kg

–Committee approves comprehensive four-year Circular Debt Capping Plan

–ECC constitutes committee to ensure provision of facilities in special economic zones

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved a hike in the minimum support price of wheat by Rs50 per 40 kilogrammes, increasing the current rate from Rs1,300 per 40kg to Rs1,350 per 40kg with an aim “to safeguard the interests of the growers and ensure food security for the masses”.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the ECC held on Wednesday with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

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As per details, the ECC was informed that the minimum support price of Rs1,300 per 40kg for wheat had not been enhanced for the last five years. However, in view of factors such as the world wheat situation, cost of production, export-import price parity and domestic prices, an appropriate support price for the next wheat crop was necessary to meet the cost of production, which had risen in 2019-20 to Rs1,349.57 per 40kg in Punjab and Rs1,315.72 per 40kg in Sindh.

The ECC, while considering the global wheat price hovering around Rs1,575 per 40kg (Rs1,440 per 40kg without duties and customs duties), decided to enhance the minimum support price for the next crop of wheat from the current Rs1,300 per 40kg to Rs1,350 per 40kg.

The ECC also asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to approach the provinces well in time to make adequate wheat procurement in the coming season.

Meanwhile, the ECC considered a set of proposals by the Petroleum Division regarding the provision of utilities, particularly the installation of gas connections, in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). After a detailed discussion on the matter, the ECC constituted a committee, to be headed by Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, to resolve the issues as pointed out during the discussion and bring a proposal in the next meeting for a decision.

The committee also took up a proposal by the Power Division for an amendment to the implementation agreement governing Thalnova Power Thar Private Limited and Thar Energy Limited by increasing the time period for exercise of the government’s right to terminate the both projects from 400 days to 490 days. The ECC approved the proposal with a proviso that the Cabinet Division would take further input from the Planning Division and bring the matter back to the committee if there were substantive and fundamental issues requiring further discussion.

Moreover, the ECC considered and approved a proposal by the Ministry of Interior for release of funds through a technical supplementary grant to the tune of Rs670.553 million to KP Frontier Corps HQ (North), Peshawar.

The committee also took up a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production for grant of technical supplementary grant of Rs6 billion to the Utility Stores Corporation for subsidy and provision of essential commodities such as flour, sugar, ghee, rice and pulses at a fair price to the underprivileged sections of the society, in line with the package announced by the Prime Minister on 8th November 2019. The ECC, in order to ensure that this targeted subsidy reached the deserving, constituted a committee under Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood to come up within the next few days with a realistic and foolproof method involving use of information technology to ensure the objective of the subsidy as announced by the Prime Minister was fully met.

The ECC also approved a detailed proposal based on a comprehensive four-year Circular Debt Capping Plan presented by the Power Division to address the flow of the circular debt through effective efficiency improvement measures and effective implementation of the National Electricity Policy 2019.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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