ECC ratifies ban on sugar exports to ‘keep prices in check’

Committee rejects PM's decision to import sugar through private sector, as 'adequate stocks' are available in the country

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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Monday endorsed the prime minister’s decision to impose a ban on sugar exports.

However, the ECC meeting, chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, did not approve the premier’s decision to import sugar through the private sector, noting that “adequate stocks” of the commodity were available in the country.

Prime Minister Imran on Friday had approved a summary to ban sugar exports and to allow the import of 300,000 tonnes sugar through the private sector in a bid to control price hike.

While briefing the current situation of sugar supply, the Ministry of Industries and Production informed ECC that adequate stocks of sugar were available in the country but prices in both domestic and international markets were showing an upward trend. The meeting was informed that 1.719 million tonnes of sugar stocks were available with the mills.

According to a press release issued by the finance ministry, the meeting decided that in case there was “considerable decrease” in the available stock, the ECC “would be willing to reconsider the proposal” for import of sugar as well as the removal of tariff and taxes on the subject import.

The ECC also directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to communicate with the provincial governments to control sugar prices in the country “as it was [a] provincial subject”.

Meanwhile, the ECC considered and approved a technical supplementary grant for release of funds amounting to Rs3,300 million for “Prime Minister’s Special Package to Implement ‘Skill for All’ Strategy as a Catalyst for TVET Sector Development”.

The ECC also approved the continuation of funding facility to ISGS. It was decided that the loan agreement between ISGS and GHPL be approved for a period of one year. Any extension thereafter be subject to progress on the undertaken projects and as soon as the first project reaches closure, ISGS needs to become financially self-sustaining and after closure of the project it will also put forward a business plan how it will return the loan.

Moreover, the committee approved the law ministry’s request for a technical supplementary grant of $1 million as legal and miscellaneous expenses in the Reko-Diq case. The ECC also directed the ministry to give a detailed briefing on the case details during the next meeting.

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