ECC fixes Rs1,600 wheat support price

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Monday fixed wheat support price at Rs1,600 for next year’s crop.

The decision was taken during an ECC meeting, which chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, at the Cabinet Division.

The committee was briefed that the support price mechanism plays a pivotal role in boosting wheat production, as it stabilises market and increases the profitability of farmers.

Since 2010-2011, the support price for wheat has been revised four times. The new price, which has been decided by the ECC, is close to the price recommended by Punjab, the largest producer of wheat in the country.

The ECC was informed that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) shall be able to secure 1 million metric tonnes (MMT) of wheat till January 2021 through international bidding.

Further, on the Ministry of National Food Security & Research’s request, the ECC decided that the initial allocation of TCP for the import of 1.50MMT of wheat may be enhanced to 1.80MMT to cater for the additional requirement of 0.30MMT demanded by KP and Sindh for shipment by mid-February.

It was decided that 300,000MMT of wheat shall be imported on a government-to-government basis from Russia through PASSCO.

The committee also decided that further tendering of wheat may be stopped and TCP may resort to GTG arrangement for additional procurement of wheat.

Keeping in view the arrival of the new crop in March 2021, the forum decided that no vessel of imported wheat should be arranged either in the public or private sector beyond February 2021.

Meanwhile, the ECC okayed releasing 50 per cent of the tariff differential subsidy to the Power Division.

The Finance Division has earmarked Rs140 billion for 2020-21 as Power Division subsidy. The release of Rs65.8 billion demanded by the division will be used for payments to power producers in order to maintain adequate liquidity.

On a summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the determination of gas rate for operations of Fatima Fertiliser and Agritech, the ECC decided that the rate of Rs772/MMBTU with variable contribution margin at 186 per bag may be offered to both the units for the period November 3 onwards.

The ECC was briefed that the government’s share at this gas rate has been estimated by NFDC on the basis of RLNG’s last notified rate for July by OGRA, which is approximately 0.42 billion.

The actual payment for price differential sum to SNGPL may vary due to the difference in RLNG’s monthly rate.

Moreover, the ECC granted approval for the sale of surplus power available at the incremental rate of Rs12.96/kwh to all industrial consumer categories, excluding zero-rated industrial consumers, on the incremental consumption over their respective historical consumption or established benchmark.

The meeting decided to form a committee, consisting Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar, Power Minister Omer Ayub Khan, and SAPMs Nadeem Babar and Tabish Gohar, to prepare a proposal to include K-Electric in the package.

The committee will also propose whether the package shall continue for one year or three years, besides analysing the need for any subsidy that will be involved in the package and all issues that may come up in the calculation and distribution of the subsidy.

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The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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