ISLAMABAD: While endorsing Ramazan package for price reduction of 19 items with Rs 8.2 billion subsidy through Utility Stores Corporation (USC), ECC enabled the whole country to benefit from the relief package.
The ECC has made major changes to the Ramazan package as previously it was only authorized for 20 million households enrolled in the Ehsas program, but now the ECC has granted permission to benefit from this relief package for the whole country. The Ramazan package will be available from April 1, 2022 until the last day of Ramazan. The Ministry of Finance has been instructed to release the necessary funds.
According to an official announcement made after the ECC meeting that Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Shaukat Tarin chaired the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Tuesday. Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister of Economy Omar Ayub Khan, Federal Minister of Industry and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister of Energy Hammad Azhar, Prime Minister’s Advisor for Trade and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Federal Secretaries and Senior Officials participated in the meeting.
The Ministry of Industries and Production presented a summary of the Ramzan relief program. The ECC approved in principle the Ramzan Relief Package 2022, involving an 8.2 billion grant for the whole country rather than just 20 million households enrolled in the Ehsaas Rashan Riyat program with instructions to frame the procedural mechanism to limit the actions of each family.
The ECC authorized the signing of 15 debt suspension agreements with G-20 countries worth $396 million out of a total outstanding debt of $9.36 billion. As part of the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiatives (DSSI), the Minister of Finance of G-20 countries announced a relief package for IDA-eligible countries in the wake of the pandemic of Covid-19 in April 2020. To date, under DSSI-I, a total of 31 debt rescheduling agreements with 19 countries have been signed. The negotiation for the finalization of the debt rescheduling agreement with the UAE is ongoing. So far, DSSI-I has provided $1.068 billion in debt relief to Pakistan. For DSSI-II from January to June 2021, so far, 29 debt rescheduling agreements with 13 countries have been signed. Pakistan is negotiating debt rescheduling agreements with Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States and so far it has provided debt relief to the tune of $1.13 billion under of the DSSI-II. The G-20 Finance Minister has extended debt relief for July-December 2021 known as DSSI-III and so far 19 debt rescheduling agreements with five countries have been signed. Negotiations for the finalization of the debt rescheduling agreement with Belgium, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are ongoing. DSSI-III relief is expected to be $950 million.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs presented a summary of the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The ECC has enabled the Ministry of Economic Affairs to sign 15 debt rescheduling agreements with various creditor countries, finalized under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
The ECC has approved the Petroleum Division’s proposal to issue a Sovereign Guarantee in the amount of Rs. 21,000 million in favor of M/s Faysal Bank Limited at a considerably lower mark-up rate for the remaining term of the loan, i.e. 4.5 years, as well as the issuance of a letter of comfort for a new financing agreement with the LNG-II pipeline infrastructure development project.
On a proposal by the Petroleum Division to reassign Jhal Magsi gas from OGDCL to SSGCL, the ECC authorized the reassignment of 15 MMCFD of Jhal Magsi gas to SSGCL. SSGCL would carry out the Jhal Magsi city gasification project and ship the necessary gas from the proposed allocation. The injection of this gas will help alleviate SSGC’s gas supply and demand deficit.
On a proposal by the Petroleum Division for the allocation of gas from the Mari (deep) gas reservoir to M/s SNGPL, the ECC approved in principle up to 110 MMCFD of gas from the Mari deep gas reservoir (Goru -B) allocated to SNGPL until 30-06-2024 on a firm basis with direction for the determination of the gas price mechanism.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a summary regarding the intervention price for the 2022-23 cotton crop. To revive cotton production in the country, bring stability to the domestic market and ensure a fair income for farmers, the ECC has authorized Rs. 5,700/40 kg seed cotton intervention price threshold. The ECC further authorized the initial purchase of two million bales of cotton at the intervention price, with the quantity being reviewed on a monthly basis.
The ECC has also approved an additional technical grant amounting to Rs. 200 million to the Military Accounts Department of Pakistan for the conversion of retirees to the direct credit system for the current financial year. The ECC has also approved an additional technical grant of Rs. 3500 million in favor of the Higher Education Commission for the project titled “The University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies in Pak.