ECC approves Rs 2 billion Ramadan relief package

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet Thursday approved Ramadan Relief Package envisaging subsidy up to Rs2 billion to ensure uninterrupted availability of essential food items to people during the holy month.Food items including flour, ghee, oil, daal channa would be provided at subsidized rates while white channa, basen and dates would be available at reduced prices at the outlets of Utility Stores Corporation throughout the country. The ECC meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar.

ECC also approved summaries related to Furnace Oil Blending in Pakistan, Uniform Gas Load Management Policy, Re-lending of KFW Loan for Keyal Khawar Hydro-Power Project in accordance with new re-lending policy of the Government, Tax exemption for WAPDA for Second Sukuk Company Limited, 1100 MW Kohala Hydro Power project and additional security issues of Uch Power Private Limited and extending NOC for awarding of contract to KRL for the development of Uch-II Development Project.On the summary moved by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources the ECC approved Furnace Oil Blending in Pakistan to acquire blending technology for socio-economic benefits, additional employment opportunities and increased investment in oil sector. It may be added here that this is for the first time, the blending of furnace oil technology will be introduced in country.

Pakistan has already sufficient infrastructure to blend high viscous. The ECC directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to ensure proper monitoring system at the time of blending and SOPs be drawn.The monitoring system would function under the supervision of OGRA and Hydro Carbon Development Institute of Pakistan and the IPPs would be its consumers.After much deliberations and discussions on the Uniform Natural Gas Load Management Policy proposed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to the ECC, it was decided that gas supply to two IPPs would continue for the next five months and the other two IPPs would be asked to resort to other fuels on which the price differential would be given to them. The approved summary on natural gas load management policy has proposed curtailment of CNG supply to CNG stations for three and two days for the Provinces of Punjab and Sindh respectively.

The gas saved by the proposed curtailment would be used for power generation in Sindh and to facilitate fertilizer, industrial and power sector in Punjab on equitable basis so that consistent supply of power is ensured. Re-lending of Keyal Khawar Hydro Power Project was also been approved by the ECC. At the request of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the committee deferred the proposal for the revision in gas sale prices for the next two or three days so that the matter may be discussed at the Cabinet level or with the Prime Minister. The committee, however, accepted the economic rationale for the revision of gas sale prices and for the removal of distortion in the prices. Tax exemption for WAPDA Sukuk Company has already been approved by the Ministry of Finance which has granted exemption for the payment of income tax.

The ECC also approved modification of tariffs by NEPRA allowing operation of gas based IPPs on back up fuel (HSD) with full cost recovery, whatever period gas is not available to them. The ECC accorded no objection certificatge to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for award of UCH-II development project to be undertaken by the (KRL) Khan’s Research Laboratories. The summary for this project was earlier submitted to the Prime Minister who desired that the same may be discussed at the ECC for decision. KRL has already shown its acceptance to undertake this project by lowest bidding and fast track its completion within the stipulated time. Additional security issues for Uch Power Project was also approved by the ECC. This was the first meeting of ECC after the approval of federal budget budget 2011-12 by the Parliament, which discussed at length more than twelve agenda items, and was attended by the Federal Ministers and Secretaries of the concerned ministries. – Onlinenews