ECC okays timely settlement of Roosevelt Hotel’s loan

–Committee gives in-principle approval to the payment of all liabilities resulting from $105m debt secured by PIACL-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York

–ECC asks Finance Division to arrange Rs40bn to clear income tax refunds of up to Rs50m pending since 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday gave in-principle approval to the payment of all liabilities and responsibilities resulting from a debt of $105 million secured by the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL)-owned Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, New York.

The ECC meeting, chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, also asked the Finance Division to engage with the Law Division, Aviation Division and Planning Commission to formalise the mode of payment/refinancing, as per the schedule of the loan contracted by the Roosevelt Hotel, in order to address its financial constraints.

Meanwhile, the ECC approved a Cabinet Division proposal for the reallocation of lapsed funds of Rs8.01 billion (through technical supplementary grant) to respective ministries and divisions under the sustainable development goals achievement programme (SAP).

It also okayed amendments to the Import Policy Order 2016, in order to streamline animal and meat trade products in line with international rules and practices.

Furthermore, the committee approved a proposal by the Finance Division to allow the Asian Development Bank to launch Offshore Pakistan Rupee (PKR)-Linked bonds based on conducive market conditions.

The ECC also approved a revision in key terms of Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, making it accessible to all Pakistani citizens meeting the laid-down criteria.

A proposal by the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination for exemption from payment of annual renewal fee of licences issued to travel and tourism-related business was also approved on the occasion. The financial impact of the one-year fee exemption would be approximately Rs17 million.

Moreover, the cabinet committee took up the issue of ‘rescheduling of financing facilities and deferment in re-payment of principal loan amount by one year’ upon a written request of the borrowers received before June 30, 2020, to mitigate the effects of Covid-19. It extended the same facility to borrowers under Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme (PMYBL) and Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme upon written requests received before 30th September 2020, provided the borrowers would continue to service the mark-up amount as per the agreed terms and conditions of the relevant scheme.

Among other agenda items, the ECC approved a proposal for additional funds equal to $3 million for contribution towards SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund announced during a video conference of SAARC leaders in March 2020. The ECC was told that similar contributions had also been announced by other member countries.

Also, the ECC approved a supplementary grant of Rs540 billion, which had remained unutilised due to procedural conditions, under the Covid-19 relief measures announced for FY21.

Lastly, the committee considered and approved a Revenue Division proposal for the arrangement of Rs40 billion to pay income tax refunds of up to Rs50 million pending since 2013. The Finance Division was asked to arrange the required funds.

The chair asked the FBR to apprise the committee of the current status of pending refunds in the next meeting, observing that payment of refunds to the taxpayers was the topmost priority of the government and that taxpayers had already been given Rs250 billion tax refunds in the outgoing financial year, which was more than double the amount of refunds paid to taxpayers in the previous year.


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