ECC approves Rs.19, 656.213 mln for PSM employees retrenchment plan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 30 (APP):The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet Wednesday approved Rs 19,656.213 million for the implementation of employees retrenchment plan in the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) submitted to the Supreme Court.

The ECC, which met here with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair, took the decision on a summary of the Ministry of Industries and Production, according to a Finance Ministry press release.

The retrenchment plan has been prepared to reduce the financial burden on the government, and a report on the same has been presented in the apex court.

In another summary, the ECC was informed that the Supreme Court had directed to deposit an amount of Rs 11.680 billion with it to pay off the liabilities of the non-litigants, who had retired from PSM till May 18, 2020.

The ECC, in an earlier meeting, asked the Ministry of Industries and Production to submit the list of non- litigants and their dues. The committee was briefed that there are 3,978 retired employees who are non-litigant.

The ECC also approved the request of Ministry of Commerce to reduce the margin of commission of Trade Corporation of Pakistan on the import of wheat and sugar to 0.75% from the existing 2%. Dr Hafeez Shaikh directed that as the availability of wheat was a crucial issue, so the ECC should be given an update on it at the start of its meetings. He also expressed concern over different numbers that kept on coming up from different quarters as per the need and availability gap of the commodity.

He also directed that the Ministry of Food Security after consultation with all the relevant stakeholders should inform the public with figures about the wheat stock available and those being brought into the country by different government and private sector channels to meet any future demand-supply gap.

For the management and maintenance of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, the ECC allowed establishing a Project Management Unit (PMU), with the creation of 126 posts and recurring budget and other costs to make it a self-financing body under the administrative control of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

The committee allowed in principle the conversion of National Highway Authority (NHA) loans into government grants on the presentation of an operational and corporatization plan for the NHA.

The Minister for Planning would oversee the preparation of the plan.

The NHA’s request was approved on the ground that the projects selected by the Authority for execution were not purely on financial viability basis. Those projects, which were executed in remote areas, had very less revenue generation potential but were executed as social development projects.

The ECC approved the request of the Ministry of Energy to allow gas/ RLNG (Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas) supply to the industrial sector (exporters of five zero-rated sectors namely textile (including jute), carpets, leather, sports and surgical goods).

In order to avoid curtailment of gas to these industries, which were heavily reliant on gas, supply of LNG would be made available to the industrial sector to ease up pressure on the SSGC’s (Sui Southern Gas Company) system.

Starting from October 2020, gas supplies would be reduced to 50% for both Saturdays and Sundays to the export sector for two consecutive weekends and possibly the third weekend, in order to build sustainable gas pressures in the SSGC’s system. After three weeks, there would be no curtailment on Sundays.

The weighted average tariff would be charged at Rs 930 / MMBTU till February 2021. From March 2021 onwards notified domestic tariff would be charged unless an alternate mechanism was devised and approved by that time.

The ECC also approved the increase in natural gas sale price for commercial consumers, excluding domestic and tandoor. It decided that the increase should not be more than 1/3rd of the GIDC which was imposed till August 2020.

The committee also approved increase of Rs 20 per month as meter rent for domestic consumers for both gas companies.

The ECC decided to rationalize the tariff of the power sector-FCA and quarterly adjustments which were due for the period from November 2019 to June 2020.

According to the decision there would have been a price increase in tariff to the tune of Rs.1.62/ kWh but the forum also decided to add subsidy to the price for the end consumers that came to about Rs 1.30/kWh, so the net increase that would be passed on to the consumers of electricity up to 200 units will only be Rs 0.32 ( 32 paisas).