Sources said an ECC meeting chaired by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar discussed the issue of providing subsidy to farmers on fertiliser with some of the members arguing that a decision to discontinue subsidy would have a negative impact on the agriculture productivity as well as the ruling party”s electoral prospects in rural areas in local bodies” elections.
An official said that a subsidy could be provided on the basis of actual production of fertiliser instead of gas tariff. The official said the amount of subsidy on each bag of fertiliser may be around Rs 200; however, the accurate amount would be worked out by a ministerial committee, which is expected to meet today (Friday).
The ECC directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation to put up a comprehensive summary with a plan to reduce the current losses of Rs 3.3 billion per annum being incurred by PIA. Sources said that the ECC deferred a briefing by Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) about their performance due to absence of Minister for Planning Division Ahsan Iqbal.
The ECC was informed that oil reserves in the country are for 36 days as compared to 23 days of the corresponding period last year. The meeting was informed that improvement was due to the government”s decision to settle circular debt which has provided adequate liquidity to Pakistan State Oil to open letters of credit for the import of crude oil. The meeting, however, showed concern over the rising trend of prices of crude oil in the international market.
The ECC also deliberated in detail about the recent pressure on the prices of essential commodities. The Finance Minister maintained that the provincial governments could be asked to keep a check on essential food items so that hoarders and speculators are not allowed to make undue profits.
The meeting was informed that Karachi Stock Exchange index reached 23,437 points, showing a 17.7% increase since May 11, 2013. The ECC was also informed that the Business Confidence Index, which was -34% last year, has now turned positive to 2 points, which is a clear testimony of the confidence of markets in the economic policies being pursued by the present government.
Senator Dar said the international banks which were earlier hesitant to extend any loans to Pakistan are now prepared to do business with us. The ECC rejected a proposal made by Gilgit Baltistan that foreign funded projects, namely 26MW Shagharthang Skardu and 4MW Thack Chilas, may be exempted from the conditionality of re-lending and repayment and that instead Government of Pakistan may pick up the loans of these projects.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources submitted a report to the ECC that the tendering process for Fast Track Engro Project, and SSGC LPG Retrofit Project would be carried out as per PPRA rules 2004 to ensure transparency. The meeting was attended by Minister for Industries and Production, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Senator Pervaz Rashid, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Science and Technology, Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for Information Technology, Ms Anoosha Rehman Khan and heads of various divisions and departments.