Remittances transferred into bank accounts will be exempted from WHT from July 2020

–A National Remittance Loyalty Programme will be launched from Sept to incentivise remitters through mobile apps and cards

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a host of measures to encourage and facilitate overseas Pakistanis in sending their remittances through official banking channels.

The approval was granted during an ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

As per the details, the ECC approved the continuation of a remittance incentive scheme, which was launched in 2018-19 for banks and exchange companies, for the ongoing calendar year as well.

Under the scheme, financial institutions would be incentivised with Rs0.50 per $1 on 5pc growth, Rs0.75 per $1 on 10pc growth and Rs1 per $1 on 15pc growth.

The committee also approved that the amount of remittances transferred into bank accounts would be exempted from withholding tax with effect from July 1, 2020, whereas a ‘National Remittance Loyalty Programme’ would be launched from September 1, 2020, in collaboration with major commercial banks and government agencies, through which various incentives would be given to remitters through mobile apps and cards.

The ECC okayed a technical supplementary grant of Rs9.6 billion during the current financial year to finance these initiatives.

Taking up other agenda items, the ECC approved a proposal by the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training for a technical supplementary grant of Rs5 billion in favour of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for FY20, with instruction for judicious and need-based distribution of funds among the universities.

It also gave a go-ahead to a proposal by the National Security Division for a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs15 million for the Strategic Policy Planning Cell (SPPC) created in the division with the approval of the prime minister to act as an intellectual hub for evidence-based policy input on key national security issues.

Meanwhile, the committee gave an approval to a proposal of the Ministry of Defence for a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs34.528 million for internal security duty allowance for the Pakistan Air Force.

On a Petroleum Division proposal, the ECC approved allocation of gas to the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) and provisional tight gas incentive for Rehman-4 Well in Kirthar Block, subject to the finalization and approval of requisite third-party certifications for tight gas for the same well.

The ECC also discussed a proposal regarding quarterly adjustments of the K-Eectric Limited for the period from July 2016 to March 2019.

In the light of input and discussion by the members, the ECC set up a committee comprising Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Hammad Azhar, the Planning Commission’s deputy chairman, the secretary Finance and a representative from the K-Electric to examine the issue in detail and recommend to ECC within a week a solution and roadmap for resolving the issue.

Moreover, the ECC deliberated upon a proposal by the Ministry of Energy to further extend till June 2020 the grant of subsidy to agricultural tubewell consumers in Balochistan.

Earlier, the ECC was briefed that nearly 30,000 agri consumers in Balochistan had been given subsidy since Jan 1, 2015, with 40pc subsidy shared by the federal government and 60pc contributed by the Balochistan government.

However, recovery of dues from the farmers against the electricity consumed over and above the limit of subsidy had been negligible and attempts to recover these dues from defaulters in the past had not been successful, the meeting was told.

The ECC discussed the issue in detail and set up a committee, including the power minister, to discuss the issue with the Balochistan government and ensure a credible solution to the problems impeding a judicious execution of the scheme, for which the federal government alone was contributing Rs9 billion annually, and also allowed the extension of subsidy until a solution to the issue was found by the committee to put in place.

Regarding a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the revival of Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML), the ECC discussed the issue and asked the ministry to resubmit a proposal in the light of recent and ongoing developments on different issues concerning stakeholders.

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