Wednesday Aug 31, 2022
ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet Tuesday approved Rs103.125 billion as a technical supplementary grant (TSG) under the Benazir Income Support Program for flood-affected families.
Under the programme, financial assistance of Rs25,000 will be disbursed among households in the flood-affected areas. Keeping in view that the BISP has to release its regular quarter tranche in the first week of September 2022 to meet the IMF deadline and considering the budgetary requirements of the cash grant of flood-affected areas, it was proposed that Rs103.125 billion may be released as TSG enabling the BISP to carry out its disbursement operation.
The modalities will be worked out by the BISP Board. The ECC directed the Finance Division to transfer the TSG amount of Rs103.125 billion to BISP as per requirement. The ECC also revised downward import of wheat requirement from 3 million tons to 2.6 million tons as strategic reserves will be maintained at 2 million tons including a quantity of 0.080 million metric tons on account of the SAARC Food Bank, The News reported.
The TCP may be directed to arrange a further quantity of 1 million tons of imported wheat in addition to the remaining 0.6 million metric tons. The import of specified wheat (Russian wheat) may be allowed through G2G as well as open tendering for approval at the lowest price.
According to an official, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail presided over the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at the Finance Division on Tuesday.
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr. Aisha Ghous Pasha, Minister of State for Petroleum Mr. Musadik Masood Malik, Coordinator to PM on Commerce & Industry Rana Ihsan Afzal, Coordinator to the PM on economy Mr. Bilal Azhar Kayani, federal secretaries and other senior officers attended the meeting.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs presented a summary on G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). This debt relief, termed DSSI-I, for IDA eligible countries to mitigate the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 was announced in April 2020. Currently, further six agreements for DSSI-III with Italy, Japan and Spain have been negotiated and finalized.
Foregoing in view, for signing of six debt rescheduling agreements with three creditor countries by secretary EAD on behalf of government of Pakistan, this summary was presented in the ECC. After discussion, the ECC agreed to reschedule the agreement proposed by EAD on account of deferred payments due to Covid-19.
The Ministry of National Food, Security and Research presented a summary on refixing of national wheat strategic reserves to the level of 2.00 MMT. In the wake of recent rainfall and flood damages ensuing financial issues of farmers for the next wheat sowing season, rising local wheat prices and hoarding and smuggling issues, the aforementioned quantity is insufficient. Therefore, in order to ensure wheat availability across the border and to stabilize local wheat prices, it was proposed that the quantum of wheat strategic reserves may be retained at the level of 2 MMT.
In view of above, the ECC approved the revision of ECC decision for import of 3 MMT of milling wheat and allowed for maintenance of strategic reserves of wheat at the level of 2.00 MMT, including a quantity of 0.080 MMT on account of Saarc food bank. Furthermore, the TCP was directed to arrange a further quantity of 0.8 MMT through G2G or open tender. It was added that import of 0.8 MMT wheat was allowed to private sector with proviso that subsidy shall not be provided for such imports of wheat.
The National FATF Coordination Committee on AML/CFT presented a summary for approval of arrangements/expenditure related to on-site visit of FATF/APG assessors’ team. It was shared that FATF team, comprising 15 members, will visit from 29 Aug to 2 Sep in order to verify the stance of Pakistan as reported in cyclic reports. In this regard, a summary for allocation of TSG of Rs7 million was presented. The ECC approved this summary.
The Ministry of Communication submitted a summary for extension of time to complete the business plan of NHA from June 30, 2022 to Sep. 30, 2022. It was shared that the NHA had already shared information with the ADB consultant for preparation of business plan of NHA. However, additional time was required to complete the same.
This summary was approved by the ECC after a thorough deliberation with the provision that no further extension would be given. In case, a further extension is sought, the Finance Division will start deducting interest on Cash Development Loans (CDL).
The Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety submitted a summary for emergency cash assistance to the victims of flash floods. Unprecedented rains and flash floods across the country have resulted in loss of lives and properties. In view of above, the ECC approved the summary and directed the BISP to disburse a total of Rs25000/household in calamity affected districts for poverty score up to 32.
It was also added that the Finance Division will consult with the BISP to discuss the financial implications and required modalities. Furthermore, the federal government will ask the provinces to provide their share in the relief for flood victims.