ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was informed on Wednesday that the Foreign Direct Investment increased by 85% in the first quarter of current financial year.
The foreign remittances also reached $5.2 billion in the same quarter, about 6.3% more than the corresponding period of last year.
“This speaks volumes about the seriousness of the PML-N government in the economic uplift of the country,” Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar said chairing the ECC meeting here.
He expressed satisfaction noting that the large scale manufacturing had increased by 12.8 percent during the month of September.
The meeting was also informed that this sector experienced a growth of 8.4% during the first quarter of the financial year 2013-14, mainly because of the proactive approach of the government in liquidating the circular debt, resulting in increased generation.
Consequently, the ECC was told, growth in the large scale industrial sector experienced an increase of 6% in June 2013, which gradually increased to 12.8% in September, because of the addition of 1700 MW in the national grid.
Senator Ishaq Dar, expressing concern over inflation in the country said, “It was mainly due to the increase in international fuel prices and hoped that there will be lesser adjustments in the future.”
The government, he said is sensitive to the hardships of the people and was on an average providing a subsidy of around Rs 2.2 billion every month just to lessen the burden of the rise in fuel prices on the masses.
The ECC also decided to appoint ADB as the transaction advisor in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project.
The finance minister said, “Involving a credible financial institution as the transaction advisor will ensure greater transparency in the deal.”
The ECC also discussed in detail the rise in the prices of onions and tomatoes in the domestic markets.
It was told that the shortage of both the commodities is the main cause of the rise in prices, which will soon be overcome when fresh stocks of onions and tomatoes reach the markets.
Officials representing the Ministry of Food Security told the ECC that during the past three days a survey was conducted in the local markets, and it was observed that the prices are already going down, and by the end of this month they will improve further.
However, Ishaq Dar, advised the officials of the Ministry of Food Security to bring a better and much more practical proposal to check the rising prices on long term basis.
The ECC also directed the Ministry of Food Security to keep a watch over the prices and deferred the matter till the next meeting.
As regard Energy Efficiency Audit of the captive power plants, the ECC decided to form a committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Water and Power and comprising representatives of ministries of industries and production and petroleum and natural resources, Ministry of Commerce, NEPRA and OGRA. The committee will propose a viable plan for the capacity building for energy efficiency audits and to introduce transparency in the system.
Ishaq Dar said, “We shall start the process of conducting energy efficiency assessment from the public sector and will initiate awareness campaigns for the private sectors to use methods that could save energy and help in bringing the country out of its present energy crisis.”
The meeting noted the recommendations made by a committee constituted by ECC under the Chairmanship of Governor State Bank of Pakistan to study the process of “portfolio investment.”
The meeting also discussed a draft policy for regulation of organizations receiving foreign contributions. It would be pertinent to mention here that ECC in its meeting held on July 2013, had constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Science and Technology to review the regulatory framework for NGOs/INGOs working in Pakistan.
The ECC was told that a draft policy had been prepared after meeting with all stakeholders and the matter would now be brought up before the ECC after further consultation with the Law Division within two weeks.
The ECC approved the transfer of Engro Corporation Ltd’s investment in Engro Foods, Netherland B.V. to Engro Foods (Ltd) Pakistan.
The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Senator Pervez Rashid, Minister for Science and Technology, Zahid Hamid, Minister Industries Murtaza Jatoi, Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Zubair Umar Chairman Board of Investment and senior officials of the Ministries of Finance, Water and Power, Planning and Development, Commerce, Communications and Industries.