The Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday decided that federal and provincial governments would procure 8 million tons of wheat during the current fiscal year. The ECC meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar approved a summary moved by Ministry of National Food Security and Research for fixing wheat procurement target for 2013-14.
The meeting decided that Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Service Corporation (PASSCO) would procure 1.6 million tons. Punjab government would procure 4.5 million tons followed by Sindh government 1.3 million tons, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.450 million tons and Balochistan 0.150 million tons of wheat.
The ECC also decided to extend ban on the import of gold under SRO 760 up to March 31, 2014 with directives to the Commerce Ministry to re-examine the issue holistically for submission of a matter before the ECC in next meeting. The Finance Minister also directed the Commerce Ministry to lift restrictions on the export of gem stones. Sources said a ban was imposed due to a sharp increase in import of gold.
They added that the trend of gold import was alarming in the first week of July 2013 when its import was recorded to the tune of Rs 53 billion under a scheme. As a result, rupee-dollar parity became adverse and there were fluctuations in the exchange rate with a massive erosion of rupee value.
The ECC also reviewed performance of Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) sector. The ECC was informed by the Ministry of Industries that with the induction of the present government, the performance of LSM has improved to a great extent. He said that the LSM growth stood at 6.8% in July-December 2013-14 as compared to 2.3% in the same period last year. The ECC was informed that there is a 78% increase in sugar production and a 28% rise in fertilizer sector.
The Finance Minister observed that the main reason behind an increase in production is reduction in electricity loadshedding and enhanced supply of natural gas to the industry. He said the growth reflects renewed confidence of business community/industrialists in the economic policies of the present government. The Finance Minister further directed the officials of the Ministry of Industries to present before the next ECC meeting their recommendations and concrete measures aimed at achieving growth targets in LSM sector.
The Finance Minister directed the officials of the Ministries of Commerce and Industries to ensure the shipment of export quota of sugar up to 500,000 metric tons. He said that both the ministries and State Bank of Pakistan should reconcile their data on sugar export. He also directed the Commerce Ministry to submit a comprehensive policy on sugar.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastagir Khan, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal, secretaries of the concerned ministries and senior officials of the government.