Rs1.73bn approved to subsidise prices of essential items in RamazanPakistan
ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has allowed raising of Rs100 billion in commercial loans to bail out the ailing power sector and approved a Ramazan Package worth Rs1.73bn to provide essential items to people at subsidised rates.
A meeting of the ECC presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday also allowed seven-month extension in financial closing date for the Lahore-Matiari Transmission Line Project.
The ECC approved the Ramazan Relief Package 2018 for 19 daily-use items provided by the Utility Stores Corporation, including flour, sugar, cooking oil, ghee, grams, dates, rice, squashes, milk and tea.
The government would provide a subsidy of Rs1.733bn under the package. The prime minister directed that under the initiative items of daily use be provided to the poor at prices lower than market rates.
The ECC approved a proposal of the power division for raising Rs100bn through commercial banks as a fresh financing facility to be arranged through the Power Holding Private Ltd. The loan amount would be utilised for funding the liabilities of the power distribution companies towards the Central Power Purchasing Agency and the sectoral entities — power producers and fuel suppliers.
Last month, the government raised Rs80bn for the power sector for payments to electricity producers and fuel suppliers, of which Rs53bn reached the power producers and fuel suppliers while the remaining Rs27bn was adjusted against interest payments.
The ECC approved extension in the financial closing date of 660KV HVDC Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line by seven months, that is up to Dec 1, without doubling the amount of performance guarantee. The decision has been taken to align the project with the completion of upcoming coal-fired power projects being developed at Thar and near Karachi as well as the 1,100MW K-2 nuclear project in Karachi.
The meeting approved revision of cess rates of tobacco for the year 2017-18. The ECC also allowed the Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storages Corporation to export 0.5 million tons of surplus wheat at a rebate of $155 per ton through sea route.
PM Abbasi also presided over a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) at the PM Office and approved three development projects having a total outlay of Rs331bn.
The projects include the Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project, which will be developed at a cost of Rs309.5bn and which has been made part of the next year’s development programme. The dam will be a multi-purpose project, which besides producing 800MW of electricity, will have a storage capacity of 1,594 million cubic metres of water that may be used for irrigation, flood mitigation and supply of drinking water to Peshawar and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Ecnec also approved construction of infrastructure and allied works for metro bus services from the Peshawar Morr in federal capital to the new Islamabad airport (25.6km) at a cost of Rs16.42bn. The project will provide affordable and convenient transport to passengers using the new airport.
Ecnec also approved a reverse osmosis sea water plant of 5MGD for Gwadar city at a total cost of Rs5.07bn.
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2018