ISLAMABAD, Jan 20 (APP):The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) Monday decided to allow import of 300,000 tonnes of wheat to decrease its price and meet the domestic requirement.

The ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, also withdrew the regulatory duty allowing the private sector to import the commodity to the extent of the approved quantity.

The ECC decided that the wheat to be imported under its decision would be allowed in the country until March 31, 2020 to ensure that the local wheat to be available from the start of April was picked up at the right price from the market.

It also issued instructions for the immediate release of stocks held by the PASSCO (Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation) and the provincial departments.

Besides the import of wheat, the ECC approved a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production to reduce the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) on gas consumed by the fertilizer manufacturers from Rs 405 to Rs 5 per bag so that this benefit could be passed on to the farmers.

It also allowed the raising of Rs 200 billion on the request of Ministry of Energy (Power Division) from the Islamic banks as fresh facility through the Power Holding Limited by way of issuance of Pakistan Energy Sukuk-II against assets of the DISCOs (distribution companies) / GENCOs (generation companies) as collateral through open competitive bidding to procure financing in a fair and transparent manner. The amount will be utilized for the purpose of funding the repayment liabilities of the DISCOs.

The committee approved the proposed mechanism by the Ministry of Finance for the grant of sovereign guarantees.

Under the mechanism, all the requests for government guarantees are to be accompanied by a request for the guarantee by the governing body of PSE’s (public sector entities).

Further, every request must be reviewed and endorsed by the administrative ministry / department concerned of the relevant entity.