ECC approves Rs3.85bn to clear PSM employees’ dues

Committee allows Kharlachi border crossing as rebatable point to increase exports to Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amount of Rs3.85 billion to clear dues of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees for the financial year 2020-21, to be disbursed every month.

This approval was accorded during the ECC meeting, which was held with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The meeting decided to seek a detailed report from the Ministry of Industries and Production on the nature of liabilities due on PSM on account of retirement dues, liabilities that will accrue as a result of the retrenchment plan and expenditures on account of utilities or any other charges.

The forum was briefed that the retired employees of the PSM had already been paid Rs12.741 billion earlier this month but the Sindh High Court has asked to pay the non-litigant retired employees as well, which “will further add Rs11.68 billion to the expenditure of the federal government”.

Meanwhile, the meeting considered and approved two technical supplementary grants (TSGs), amounting to Rs111 million, for the Ministry of Interior to clear various liabilities of the ICT administration.

The meeting also approved TSGs amounting Rs102 million for Islamabad High Court and Rs8.5 million for National Heritage and Culture Division for various expenditures.

Moreover, the committee allowed notifying the Kharlachi border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a rebatable border point for export of goods to Afghanistan. Earlier, the opening of this border point helped in the release of congested transit trucks at the Afghan border due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The ECC also okayed the shifting of the ‘Federal Expanded Programme on Immunization EPI’ from development to revenue expenditure with an allocation of Rs9.9 billion through a TSG for vaccine procurement in the current financial year to avoid interruption in the immunization programme. Now the vaccine shall be procured by the federal EPI on behalf of the provincial governments and later reimbursement shall be made by Punjab and Sindh government, and deduction at source from the shares of KP and Balochistan for their respective vaccine shares will be made.

Lastly, the committee allowed the exemption from re-lending of the funds for Pakistan National Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for Covid-19 to cover the country’s requirements for 12 months through emergency operations. In order to administer the programme, Asian Development Bank will provide a loan of $100 million while an additional $5 million will be from the Norwegian government as a grant administered by ADB.

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