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ECC increases prices of flour, ghee and sugar at utilities stores

The ECC approved the revision in prices of three essential commodities. Source: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved increasing the prices of three essential commodities including flour, sugar and ghee to rationalise the provision of subsidies by the Utility Stores Corporation.

The ECC approved the revision in prices of three essential commodities including flour (20-kilogram bag) to Rs950, ghee to Rs260 per kg and sugar to Rs85 per kg respectively owing to an increasing gap between the subsidised prices offered by USC and the prevailing market prices.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held at the Finance Division.

During the meeting, the secretary of the Ministry of Industries and Production presented a summary regarding the extension of the Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020, providing subsidies on five essential commodities from July 15 to September 30 till the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system becomes fully operational.

The ECC approved Kamyab Pakistan Program, a flagship program that will provide micro-loans to entrepreneurs and farmers under “Kamyab Karobar” and “Kamyab Kissan” schemes respectively.

The program shall also provide low-cost housing loans through Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority (NAPHDA). The program also includes an ongoing skill development program for educational and vocational training under the title of “Kamyab Hunarmand”.

The third component of the scheme was the introduction of a new tier in the Naya Pakistan Low-Cost Housing Scheme wherein loans of Rs.27 million (for NAPHDA) and Rs2 million (for Non-NAPHDA) projects will be given at subsidised rates.

The salient features of the Kamyab Pakistan Program include a loan size of Rs150,000 (per crop) for the purchase of agricultural inputs. The commutative disbursement under the program would be Rs1.6 billion over the period of 3 years, whereas, it will benefit 30,00,000 families.

The ECC commended all concerned for working out such a detailed program aimed at a “bottom-up approach” for reducing poverty as envisaged by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The finance minister stated that the consultative process was followed in working out modalities of the Kamyab Pakistan Program, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are on board and micro-loans shall be disbursed as per the given criteria.

A summary tabled by the Power Division was approved for non-cash settlement for Power Sector re-lent loans against subsidies payable by the federal government equal to Rs116 billion.

During the meeting, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a summary regarding the procurement of 200,000 cotton bales by TCP to promote cotton production and bring stability to the domestic market.

The ECC approved the formation of the Cotton Price Review Committee (CPRC) with a mandate to review market prices and propose intervention on a fortnightly basis.

The ECC also approved a summary by the Ministry of Industries and Production for importing 200,000 metric tons of sugar to build strategic reserves and minimize the role of speculative elements in the domestic market. In case of need more reserves will be built through import, the ECC decided.

ECC approved the amendment in its earlier decision dated 19-02-2021 regarding the “Prime Minister’s fiscal package for Agriculture in the wake of COVID-19 Kharif”.

The package offered subsidy on DAP at the Rs1500 per acre for cotton and rice crops, during the Kharif Season 2021. Following the amendment, the farmers can avail subsidy on any phosphatic fertilizer according to their choice.