ECC approves Rs459.5m technical grant to combat locusts

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ISLAMABAD: As the desert locusts have become a threat to the country’s agricultural sector, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Thursday approved a technical grant of Rs459.5 million to deal with the emerging threat.

Approving the technical supplementary grant, the ECC directed the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to brief in its next meeting measures taken so far, including the areas treated with spray and pesticides, to control the threat of desert locusts in different parts of the country.

The meeting was held in Islamabad with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The ECC was informed that nine districts of the country were affected by locusts and that the Department of Plant Protection has been given the responsibility to deal with the threat. “So far, 170,000 hectares have been cleared while the ministry is provided with updates on a daily basis,” the committee was told.

Meanwhile, the ECC approved the “Enactment of Pakistan Single Window Bill, 2019” in order to “facilitate businesses in Pakistan”.

The ECC was apprised that 42 government agencies were involved in granting approvals for different businesses. Through this single window, all parties involved in trade and transport could lodge standardised information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.

The FBR’s Customs Wing had developed a National Single Window Roadmap and Implementation Framework in April 2018 with the help of international experts. This initiative was expected to improve Pakistan’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. It was expected that the project would be completed in December 2021.

Moreover, the ECC allowed Gas Holding Private Limited to continue with the funding facility for Interstate Gas Systems (Private) Limited for another two years. “There would be a provision in the agreement that as soon as the first project reaches closure, ISGS should be financially self-sustaining and it should put forward a business plan in order to return the loan it has taken,” the ECC directed.

The committee also approved the placement of the ‘Annual Report’ of the National Economic Council (as required under Article 156 of the Constitution) before the cabinet after the chair was briefed that the points raised regarding the report had been duly addressed.

The Ministry of Energy got approved a proposal for the extension and rehabilitation of gas network in oil and gas producing districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (phase 1).

On the Ministry of Interior’s proposal, the ECC approved the allocation of Rs300 million through Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) to raise special wing of Pakistan Rangers for (protection of) Kartarpur Corridor on the recommendation of General Headquarters. The ECC directed that a three-member committee, consisting of Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, shall look into the details of the proposal and further rationalise the costs.

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