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January 14, 2021 (PR No. 435)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of Advisory Committee

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Advisory Committee for the release of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) spectrum in Pakistan held at the Finance Division today.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haque, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairman PTA Major General (R) Aamir Azeem Bajwa, Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Executive Director Frequency Allocation Board and other senior officials participated in the meeting.

The Chairman PTA briefed the Advisory Committee about the latest developments in the sale of available spectrum of next generation mobile services in the country.

While appreciating the sale of maximum possible spectrum, the Finance Minister stated that it will contribute towards overall economic growth through digitalization and improve the quality of broadband services in Pakistan, he added.

The Committee was also briefed that the hiring process for the consultants was completed in December 2020 as per procedure and newly hired consultants are on board for the sale of available spectrum within the current financial year.

The Finance Minister urged the consultants to follow a proactive approach and meet the given deadlines effectively. He emphasized that the time is of essence in the release of NGMS Spectrum and the whole process of auction must be transparent for strengthening and expanding communications / IT Services across the country.

The next follow-up meeting of the Advisory Committee is expected to take place in March, 2021.

 
January 11, 2021 (PR No. 434)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of NPMC

Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today.

Minister for Industries & Production, Minister for National Food Security & Research, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary M/o NFS&R, Secretary Industries & Production, Chairman FBR, Member CCP, Chairman TCP, MD PASSCO, MD USC, Member IT & Member National Accounts from PBS and senior officers of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat, sugar, eggs and edible oil. Secretary Finance briefed NPMC that prices of wheat and eggs have registered downward trend due to coordinated and consolidated efforts of the Provincial governments. The Finance Minister directed the Provincial governments and relevant departments to continue momentum of strict price monitoring for provision of basic items at affordable prices across the country.

Federal Minister for NFS&R briefed NPMC about the current status of wheat stock across the country and assured that all possible measures will be taken to ensure uninterrupted supply of wheat at affordable prices.

Minister for Industries & Production apprised NPMC that production of sugar is likely to increase this year due to improved sugarcane crushing activity and would eventually release pressure on upward price trend. Minister for Industries & Production Hammad Azhar also briefed NPMC about the steps being taken to control the prices of edible oil/ghee.

The representative from the Punjab government briefed that a strict action has been taken against the role of middlemen in sugarcane market as directed by NPMC. He informed that prices of sugar are currently stable in the Province, however, in some areas marginal hike is observed due to fog and weather conditions. Minister for Industries & Production appreciated the efforts of the Punjab Government in minimizing the role of middlemen.

Member PBS presented before NPMC a live dashboard of prices of essential items for comparative analysis which will be helpful in monitoring prices of essential items across major cities and markets in real time. The system is prepared by PBS to monitor food prices and figure out price fluctuations for timely decision making and smooth coordination among Provincial governments and departments concerned. The Finance Minister lauded the mechanism for effective price monitoring and sound decision making. NPMC directed PBS to hold a meeting with Provincial governments to remove price disparity in essential items and urged the Provinces to draw maximum benefit from the newly developed system.

 
January 06, 2021 (PR No. 433)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of ECC

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet today.

Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Minister for Privatization Mohammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir also participated through video link.

Ministry of Commerce presented a summary regarding removal of additional 2% customs duties on 152 tariff lines, mostly raw material, on horizontal basis under National Tariff Policy 2019-24. The ECC approved the summary with a direction that budget cycle must be observed while planning important incentives for businesses & industries for smooth planning and subsequent implementation during the financial year.

Ministry of Maritime Affairs tabled a summary for awarding contract regarding infrastructure facilities, sewerage system and water supply system in Gulshan-e-Benazir Township Scheme (GBTS) at Port Qasim Authority, Karachi. The ECC approved the projects in conformity with the PQA Act-1973, in principle, and directed Ministry of Maritime Affairs to settle the modalities for the award of contracts as per rules.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a detailed summary regarding provision of additional quantities of wheat to KPK, AJ&K and Utility Stores Corporations (USC). The Additional Secretary, M/o NFS&R gave a detailed presentation regarding availability of wheat stocks across the country. The ECC approved additional wheat allocation of 200,000 MT for KPK 80,000 MT to AJ&K and 220,000 MT to USC from PASSCO as requested. ECC also approved the import of additional wheat to buffer up stocks till the arrival of fresh crop after seeking detailed input from all concerned.

The summaries related to the Textile and Apparel Policy (2020-25) and National Freight and Logistics Policy (NFLP) were deferred to next ECC for comprehensive consultation process with key stakeholders.

ECC approved the following Technical Supplementary Grants during the meeting:

a) Rs. 30 million for the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of spare parts for Helicopters for the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

b) Rs. 400.020 million for the Ministry of Law and Justice to establish additional courts in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court.

c) Rs. 2.268 billion for the Higher Education Commission for completion of various Disbursement linked Indicators (DLIs) under the IDA credit facility.

 
January 04, 2021 (PR No. 432)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP)

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) today.

Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Advisor to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Chairman Board of Investment Atif Bokhari, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir and other senior officials participated in the meeting.

Privatization Division presented a summary regarding privatization status of National Power Parks Management Company Limited (NPPMCL) before CCoP. Different scenarios were presented before the CCoP for changing the capital structure i.e debt-equity ratio of NPPMCL.

After detailed discussion, the Chair directed the Privatization Commission to accelerate the privatization/ management contracts of all entities and implementation plan may be presented before the CCoP within a week to proceed further. The Chair also directed the sub-committee constituted for the NPPMCL to finalize its recommendations and place before the CCoP accordingly.

The Finance Division tabled a summary regarding shareholding structure of Pakistan Credit Guarantee Company (PCGC). The ECC had already endorsed the proposal dated 24th December 2020 regarding change in the shareholding structure of the PCGC. The subject matter was placed before CCoP for further deliberation prior to ratification by the Cabinet.

After due deliberation, the Chair directed the Law Division to provide its input in consultation with Finance, Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and State Bank of Pakistan for consideration in the next meeting.

 
January 04, 2021 (PR No. 431)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of the NPMC

Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. Minister for Industries & Production, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textiles & Investment, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary M/o NFS&R, Special Secretary Commerce, Chairman FBR, Additional Secretary Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Member CCP, Chairman TCP, MD PASSCO, MD Utility Store Corporation, Member National Accounts and senior officers of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat, sugar and edible oil. Finance Secretary briefed about the decline in Consumer Price Index recorded at 8% in December 2020 as compared to 12.6% in December 2019 as a positive outcome of vigilant monitoring under NPMC on regular basis. The NPMC noted significant decline in food inflation as urban food inflation declined by 2.1% and rural declined by 3.4% on Month-on-Month basis. NPMC was also informed that there is a decline in weekly Sensitive Price Index by 0.7%. Prices of 10 essential food commodities were reduced notably tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken.

The Chair noted that the prices of essential items have started showing declining trend which is a positive outcome of vigilant monitoring under NPMC on weekly basis. He emphasized an increased coordination among Federal and Provincial authorities to identify demand supply gaps and take immediate remedial measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of items of daily use at affordable prices.

The NPMC observed price variation in wheat flour in Sindh and Balochistan Provinces which was reflected in PBS data. The Finance Minister directed the Chief Secretaries to regulate smooth supply of wheat throughout the province by increasing daily release, if needed, and submit a comprehensive report in the next NPMC accordingly. The Chair urged the Provincial Secretaries to check the possibilities of hoarding and black marketing especially wheat and sugar to ensure uninterrupted provision at fair prices.

Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, updated the NPMC about measures being taken to further reduce the prices of sugar and edible oil in consultation with stakeholders. The Chair directed to constitute a Committee, headed by the Minister for Industries and Production, with Secretary MNFS&R and stakeholders concerned as its members to come up with a concerted course of action in this regard. The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textiles & Investment Abdul Razak Dawood also appreciated the measures being taken to further reduce the prices of sugar and edible oil.

The Chair stressed the need for effective functioning of all federal and provincial authorities to monitor the demand supply position across the country for provision of daily use items to general public at affordable rates.

 
January 01, 2021 (PR No. 430)

Chairperson Pay and Pension Commission called on the Minister for Finance and Revenue

Chairperson Pay and Pension Commission Ms. Nargis Sethi called on the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, today. Ms. Sethi briefed the Finance Minister about the working of Pay and Pension Commission to resolve the issue of burgeoning expenditure as pensions on the government exchequer as well as anomalies in pay and pension structure.

The Finance Minister emphasized the importance of reviewing the existing pay and pension mechanism, allowances, perks and possibilities of monetization in order to have a financially viable solution for Government employees.

During the meeting, the Chairperson apprised the Finance Minister about the working of the sub-committees and reiterated her commitment for streamlining the prevailing system of pay and pension based on principles of fairness and transparency.

 
December 28, 2020 (PR No. 429)

Minister for Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of NPMC

Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. The meeting was attended by Minister for Industries & Production, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Secretary Industries & Production, Chairman FBR, Additional Secretary M/o NFS&R, , Joint Secretary Commerce, Chairperson CCP, Chairman TCP, MD PASSCO, MD Utility Store Corporation, Member PBS and senior officers of the Finance Division.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of essential commodities. The Finance Secretary briefed NPMC that there has been a nominal increase in weekly SPI by 0.11%. Prices of 10 basic items decreased notably onions, potatoes and chicken whereas eggs, wheat flour and tomatoes registered a slight increase during the week.

M/o NFS&R updated NPMC about the current status of wheat and sugar stocks. The improved availability has ensured steady supply of both commodities across the country. The wheat stock position is sufficient for the domestic consumption and average per day release to the provinces is also satisfactory. The Chair directed the Provincial governments to keep close watch on the prices of wheat in the market to avoid hoarding, black marketing and smuggling to ensure uninterrupted supply of wheat at affordable prices.

The Finance Minister noted the increase in prices of eggs, wheat flour & tomatoes and directed to take all possible measures to bring down the prices of these essential items. Hammad Azhar, Minister for Industries & Production apprised that they are closely monitoring the prices of sugar and edible oil to ensure uninterrupted supply at fair prices.

The Chair emphasized an increased coordination among all government functionaries for efficient monitoring of prices of essential items to provide maximum relief to the general public.

 
December 24, 2020
Ministry of Finance hosted a farewell reception in honour of the outgoing Secretary Finance Mr. Naveed Kamran Baloch. The honourable Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, graced the occasion. Adviser on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, Ms. Teresa Daban Sanchez Resident Representative, IMF Najay Benhassine, Country Director World Bank and Ms. Xiaohang Yang, Country Director Asian Development Bank were also present on the occasion.
 
December 24, 2020 (PR No. 428)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of CCoP

The Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) here today. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, Minister for Privatization Mohammad Mian Soomro, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar and other senior officials of the Ministries of Finance, Industries & Production and Privatization Commission participated in the meeting.

On the recommendation of the Committee chaired by the Minister for Privatization, the CCoP approved the Transaction Structure for Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation.

The approved structure for Pakistan Steel Mills will allow for, “Transfer of indentified core operating assets into wholly owned subsidiary of PSMC through Scheme of Arrangement (as provided in the Companies Act 2017) followed by sale of majority shares of the newly formed subsidiary, without transferring full ownership to strategic private sector partner”.

 
December 24, 2020 (PR No. 427)

Minister for Finance & Revenue chaired the meeting of ECC

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) today. Minister for Privatization Mohammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and Governor State Bank Reza Baqir participated in the meeting.

Ministry of Water Resources presented a summary for issuance of WAPDA’s debut US$500 million Eurobonds to arrange finances for Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dams. The ECC approved the issuance of $500 million Eurobonds, in principle, and directed to work out modalities in consultation with the Finance Division and the State Bank of Pakistan.

Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives presented a detailed presentation on Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP) before ECC. The forum discussed the plan thoroughly and endorsed, in principle, with the direction to secure approval from all relevant quarters before submission to Cabinet. The Chair directed to follow all codal formalities with reference to various components of KTP.

Ministry of Maritime Affairs presented amendments in the Master Plan, originally formulated in 2001, regarding establishment of 05 terminals on BOT Basis. These terminals would fulfil increased demand for container handling capacity.

The ECC approved amendments in the Master Plan for establishing 05 terminals including two LNG terminals, two multipurpose cargo terminals and one integrated container terminal on BOT basis.

A detailed summary was placed before ECC by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) regarding shelving the LNG Air Mix Projects by Sui companies. After deliberation, the ECC decided that SNGPL may abandon the three projects namely Drosh, Ayun and Chitral Town and dispose off the land and equipment with minimal loss possible through an open transparent process.

Ministry of Energy also presented a summary regarding repayment of GHPL loan and future funding requirements for expenditure in relation to ISGSL gas import and infrastructure projects. GHPL had funded all the expenses of ISGSL through medium term loan as per ECC’s earlier decision dated 15 December, 2016. Various proposals were presented before the forum. The ECC approved the proposals in principle subject to clearance by the High Power Board.

The ECC also approved the summary by the Ministry of Industries and Production regarding duty and tax free import of cryogenic oxygen tanks for better handling of COVID-19 situation. The duty free import of cryogenic tanks would ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen gas at competitive rates.

ECC also approved the change in the shareholding structure of the Pakistan Credit Guarantee Company (PCGC). According to the new structure, the shareholding of the Government of Pakistan in the Company has been reduced to 49% from the earlier 70%. Any dividends announced by PCGC against shares held by the State Bank of Pakistan or any proceeds from the sale of shares in PCGC, held by the SBP, shall be remitted in the Government treasury.

The Following Technical supplementary grants were approved by the ECC:

· The amount to the tune of Rs 757.100 million was approved for the completion of different projects under Sustainable Goals Achievement Program (SAP).

· Rs.500 million were approved for the reimbursement of fee for less developed areas as requested by the Higher Education Commission.

· Rs.500 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works to provide interest free loans to borrowers under Prime Minister’s Low Cost Housing Scheme.

· Rs.4,189 million for the execution of development schemes for Sindh and Balochistan provinces under PSDP being executed by the Ministry of Housing and Works/Pak PWD.

· Rs. 327 million were approved for Auditor General of Pakistan to sustain the World Bank’s public financial management and accountability service delivery project during FY 2020-21.

 
December 24, 2020 (PR No. 426)

Meeting of the MFPC Board held under the chairmanship of the Minister for Finance & Revenue

A meeting of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board was held under the chairmanship of the Minister for Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh today. Adviser to PM on Commerce & Investment, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Governor SBP, Dr. Asad Zaman, member and other senior officials of the Finance Division participated in the meeting. Chairman FBR also attended the meeting on special invitation.

While presenting the current economic situation, the Finance Secretary apprised that the timely actions taken by the Government have mitigated the severe impact of pandemic on economy as compared to the other economies of the world. The economy has witnessed a considerable recovery during first five months of FY2021 as a result of continued domestic economic activity.

Governor SBP briefed that Monetary Policy is accommodative due to COVID-19 and has paved way for economic recovery during first quarter of FY2020-21. There is an improvement in the country’s external accounts. The steady worker remittance inflows and improved trade balance of goods and services were the notable developments, he added.

In his remarks, the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission stated that the first two quarters of the FY21 have been marked by a rebound in economic activities amid COVID-19. The economic recovery can be attributed to accommodative fiscal policy. He further stated that Large Scale Manufacturing and Housing Sectors have started showing signs of growth and improvement.

The Adviser for Commerce & Investment mentioned that during July-November FY2021, Pakistan’s trade deficit has registered modest improvement as exports increased by 2% (Y-o-Y) growth, while imports remained stagnant. He reiterated that the fiscal policy reforms being undertaken under the National Tariff Policy must continue. Adviser Commerce also added that domestic industry, especially export oriented, may be provided needed support to expand their operations. Similarly, the inflationary pressures must be kept in check to ensure competitiveness.

Dr. Asad Zaman, member appreciated the timely fiscal and monetary measures taken by the government during challenging times. He further mentioned that comprehensive data analysis is a key to rational decision making.

Minister for Finance & Revenue emphasized the active role of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board for designing policies to address economic challenges. He directed to make this platform more effective for achieving better coordination among all concerned to attain desired macroeconomic goals. He also stressed the need for timely provision of economic data for effective policy making. The Board should be more proactive in reviewing the impact of Fiscal and Monetary Policies on economic growth, employment, investment and external sector of the economy, he concluded.

 
December 23, 2020 (PR No. 425)

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan called on the Minister for Finance and Revenue

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, H.E. Dr. Geoffrey Shaw, called on the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh today.

The Minister extended a warm welcome to H.E. High Commissioner and commended the support extended by the Government and people of Australia to Government of Pakistan and its people and hoped that the positive sentiments will continue in future for the benefit of both the countries.

In his virtual remarks, the High Commissioner said Pakistan is at the heart of a regional market with a large population, diverse resources, and untapped potential for trade and would like to explore further opportunities for enhancing trade relations between the two countries. He said that the Australian Government invests in the people of Pakistan through Australian Aid Programs in the spheres of health and education. He reiterated to continue the cooperation especially when Pakistan is making efforts to successfully ward off the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the High Commissioner added.

The Minister thanked the High Commissioner for his cooperation and wished that the bilateral relations will further strengthen especially when the pandemic is over and the world trade will return to normalcy.

 
December 21, 2020 (PR No. 424)

Minister for Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of NPMC

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary MNFS&R, Special Secretary Commerce, Additional Secretary Industries and Production, Chairman FBR, the Provincial Chief Secretaries, MD PASSCO, MD Utility Stores Corporation (USC), Chairperson CCP, Chairman TCP, Member PBS and senior officials of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of essential commodities. The Finance Secretary apprised NPMC that there has been a consistent decline in the weekly SPI over the last four weeks. SPI registered a decline of 0.22%, notably in essential food commodities namely wheat, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken.

The Finance Minister noted the increase in prices of eggs and vegetable ghee and urged the Provincial governments to strictly monitor their prices. The Chair further directed the Secretary Commerce to call a meeting with representatives of the Provincial governments and FBR to take further steps in this regard.

During the meeting, the Secretary MNFS&R presented before NPMC the current status of wheat and sugar stocks. The improved availability of both commodities has resulted in significant decline in prices for the consumers.

 
December 21, 2020 (PR No. 423)

Minister for Finance and Revenue addressed a webinar titled “Making Pakistan Prosper: Strategy for Economic Growth and Development”

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed a webinar titled “Making Pakistan Prosper: Strategy for Economic Growth and Development” organized by the Institute of Policy Reforms.

In his online remarks, the Finance Minister stated that the global economy is passing through an unprecedented crisis. According to the IMF, there will be 4.4% contraction in global economy due to COVID-19 pandemic. Resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan and worldwide have posed new challenges, he added.

While speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister observed that the current Government faced multiple fiscal, external and real sector challenges when it came into power in FY2018. As a result, the present Government had to impose strict financial discipline, curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage imports to put the economy back on track. Consequently, Pakistan witnessed remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits. Tax Collection increased by 17%. Pakistan had successfully met performance criteria and benchmarks by IMF during the first review in pre-COVID-19 period.

The Finance Minister underscored the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted measures taken by the Government to mitigate sufferings of vulnerable groups. During COVID-19, Government of Pakistan introduced “Smart Lockdown” which allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact during testing times. The Smart Lockdown approach by the Government of Pakistan was acknowledged worldwide.

Despite COVID-19, Pakistan registered a primary surplus during first quarter of FY2020-21 which is a great achievement. Similarly, Pakistan witnessed an upward trend in remittances, FDI and exports. The Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) grew by 6.7%, he outlined.

The Government of Pakistan has given unprecedented fiscal, monetary and construction stimulus to stimulate economic recovery amid COVID-19 and in post-COVID-19 scenario. Rs.1240 billion have been allocated to cover emergency response, support businesses and provide relief to citizens during the crisis. Similarly, a special package has been announced to boost the construction sector which includes tax exemptions and subsidies to reinforce economic growth. Fifteen million families received direct cash payments under EHSAAS program, the Finance Minister stated.

He emphasised the Government is firmly committed to correcting the fundamentals of the economy through effective policy making and targeted reforms with the objective to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the long run.

 
December 16, 2020 (PR No. 422)

Minister for Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) today. Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Energy Tabish Gauhar, Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro and Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir joined the meeting through video link.

ECC approved Mobile Device Manufacturing and Electric Vehicles Policy (02-03 wheelers and HCVs {Heavy Commercial Vehicles}) presented by the Ministry of Industries and Production. After due deliberation, the forum approved removal of withholding tax of 4% on manufacturing to retailers of locally manufactured phones to incentivize the sector. Moreover, removal of Sales Tax on locally manufactured phones was also approved in principle and modalities would be worked out in consultation with the Finance Division.

ECC approved the following technical supplementary grants:

  1. Rs.219.300 million for the operationalization of the newly established Isolation Hospital and Infections Treatment Centre, Islamabad.
  2. Rs.305.462 million to payoff Pakistan’s annual contribution to World Health Organization (WHO).
  3. Rs.106.775 million to the ICT Administration for various projects
  4. Rs.706.82 million for FATA, temporary displaced persons, Emergency Recovery Project, NADRA.
  5. Rs.278.091 million for Annual Contribution of Pakistan to UNFA, PPD & IPPF-FPAP for FY-2018-19, 2019-20 & 2020-21.
  6. Rs.53.10 million for procurement of medical equipment, machinery and medicines to combat COVID-19.

The Finance Secretary briefed the forum about rationalization of subsidies (phase-I). A detailed presentation was given by SAPM on Revenue focusing on Electricity, Food and National Savings during the first phase. The Chair appreciated the detailed plan for rationalization of subsidies, its various components and directed to present a comprehensive summary with concrete proposals suggesting a way forward before ECC.

Priority Berthing for wheat and sugar imports was also discussed during the meeting. Minister for Maritime Affairs updated the forum about latest position of wheat vessels and operations of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Port Qasim Authority (PQA) accordingly. The Chair directed that the Logistic Committee of the ECC would be chaired by the Minister for Maritime Affairs to workout SOPs ensuring all stakeholders including private sector are onboard with reference to priority berthing.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a summary for provision of additional quantities of wheat to the Government of AJ&K and Utility Stores Corporation. The Chair directed to provide first load of the additional quantities to both AJ&K and USC on priority as an interim arrangement to ensure smooth supply of wheat across the country. The detailed proposal would be discussed in the next ECC meeting.

ECC approved the new re-lending policy 2020 presented by Economic Affairs Division. The new re-lending policy will reflect the changes in the borrowing cost of the government, take into account variation in the exchange rate and pass on actual rates to the borrower for transparency. Other terms and stipulations, including with respect to recovery of commitment fee as in the policy in vogue, will continue to apply.

The ECC also accorded approval for issuance of offshore Pakistan Rupee (PKR) linked Bonds to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This will help in availability of financing to priority sectors, promote private sector investments and bring foreign exchange liquidity in domestic foreign exchange market in the post-COVID-19 scenario.

The Karachi Transformation Plan was postponed to the next ECC meeting.

 
December 14, 2020 (PR No. 421)

Minister for Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary MNFS&R, Secretary Industries and Production, the Provincial Chief Secretaries, MD Utility Stores Corporation (USC) and representatives of ICT Administration, PBS, TCP and senior officers of Finance Division participated in the meeting.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the availability of essential commodities namely wheat, flour, sugar, tomatoes, onions, vegetable ghee and chicken. The Finance Secretary apprised NPMC that there has been a consistent decline in prices for the last three weeks. The weekly SPI data showed that prices declined by -0.3% in the last week, notably in essential food commodities including sugar, onions, potatoes, rice and pulses. This is due to improved availability of wheat, sugar, and vegetables due to imports by Government and private sector.

The Chair lauded the efforts of the concerned Ministries/Department and the Provincial Governments for keeping the prices of essential commodities in check.During the meeting, the Finance Minister urged the Provincial governments to strictly monitor the prices of chicken and ensure smooth supply to minimize the gap in supply and demand.

The Chair also held a detailed discussion with Secretary MNFS&R, and the Provincial Chief Secretaries regarding position of wheat and sugar stocks in the Provinces.

The Secretary MNFS&R briefed the NPMC that sufficient stocks of wheat are available across the country. The Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) Government has demanded additional quantity of wheat which will be fulfilled in time, he assured. The Finance Minister also approved provision of wheat to USC, and the formal approval would be granted as per the summary moved by the MNFS&R in the next ECC meeting.

Secretary Industries and Production briefed that the slight increase in the price of vegetable ghee is due to spike in international prices. Finance Minister directed M/o Industries and Production to look into upward pricing trend in the international market and take necessary steps to minimize its impact on domestic prices, he concluded.

 
 
December 09, 2020 (PR No. 418)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed the Plenary Meeting of the Global Forum

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addressed the Plenary Meeting of the Global Forum on “Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes 2020”, organized by OECD.

In his online remarks, Adviser Finance stated that Pakistan has achieved important milestones in transparency and exchange of information. He appreciated the technical support extended by the Global Forum and the UK Government which was instrumental in implementing the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). At present, Pakistan is one of the few developing countries among the early adopters of the CRS and began exchanging data with partner jurisdictions in less than 02 years, he added.

While speaking on the occasion, the Adviser outlined that Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information (EOI) are powerful tools to enhance tax compliance. Pakistan is firmly committed to fighting tax evasion and other illicit financial flows and need more international cooperation for cross-border assistance in tax recovery, he stressed.

The Adviser also briefed the forum about the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken by the Government to mitigate sufferings of the vulnerable groups. During COVID-19, Government of Pakistan introduced “Smart Lockdown” to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional. The Smart Lockdown approach by the Government of Pakistan was acknowledged worldwide. The Smart Lockdown allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact during testing times. The Government of Pakistan gave cash payments to 15 million families under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Payments”.

Amid COVID-19, Government has taken several initiatives to accelerate economic recovery. A relief package for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness. Similarly, a special package was announced to boost Construction sector which included amnesty scheme, tax exemption and Rs.33 billion subsidy to stimulate economic growth. Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and FDI during first quarter of FY-2020-21. The Government is firmly committed to correct fundamentals of the economy through effective policy making and targeted reforms. The end goal is to achieve sustainable economic growth, he concluded.

 
December 07, 2020 (PR No. 417)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today at the Finance Division to discuss the prices and supply position of essential food items. The meeting was attended by Minister Industries & Production, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary NFS&R, Secretary Industries & Production, Chairman FBR, Chairperson CCP, Executive Director Commerce, Chairman TCP, Manager Coordination Utility Store Corporation (USC), Member PBS, Deputy Commissioner ICT Administration and senior officers of Finance Division.

The Finance Secretary while presenting the price trend of essential commodities informed that according to latest SPI released by PBS there is decline in the prices of 13 essential commodities for instance wheat flour, sugar, onions, tomatoes and potatoes, while the prices of 17 commodities have increased slightly. Price of 21 items remained stable. The Committee was also informed that profit margin between the prices of wholesale and retail consumers is also coming down.

The Chair held detailed discussions with the Provincial Chief Secretaries regarding position of wheat in the provinces and it was informed that at present sufficient quantities are available to meet existing demand. Further, the prices of perishable items as well as wheat and sugar are showing downward trend due to the improvement in their supply position and pricing mechanism. The Committee expressed satisfaction that prices of essential items getting down.

The Chair directed the M/o NFS&R to conduct an emergency meeting with TCP, Maritimes, KPT and other stakeholders to review the implementation of the schedule regarding offloading of wheat vessels as decided by the logistic committee. He further advised the Provincial governments to strictly monitor the prices of Chicken and ensure smooth supply to minimize the demand supply gap. M/o Industries & Production was also directed to take necessary measures to control rising prices of edible oil.

 
December 03, 2020 (PR No. 416)

Press Release

In response to media reports claiming that the National Accountability Bureau has issued a notice to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, it is clarified that the Advisor has so far not received any notice.

The Advisor stands ready to extend full cooperation to the NAB according with the law in any matter.

 
December 03, 2020 (PR No. 415)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the 4th Meeting of FBR Policy Board

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the fourth meeting of the FBR Policy Board held at the FBR Headquarters, Islamabad today. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Privatization Mian Mohammad Soomro, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain and Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar participated in the meeting.

Member Customs Operations made a detailed presentation on Customs Valuation (Under-invoicing) and highlighted measures to be taken to plug in gaps and enhance custom revenues in future. FBR has issued Valuation Rulings and entered into Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) Agreements with China, Iran, Afghanistan etc to address the issue of under-invoicing of imports effectively. These agreements have yielded positive results.

The Adviser stressed the need to evaluate the clearance time with reference to our regional trading partners in order to make FBR more competitive.

 
December 03, 2020 (PR No. 414)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in Islamabad today. Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar and Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir joined the meeting through video link.

The Power Division presented the case for abolishment of Time-of-Use tariff scheme for Industrial consumers to spur industrial activity amid COVID-19 pandemic by removing the distinction between the current system of peak and off-peak hours as a part of Industrial support package. The underlying rationale is to incentivize industrial units to operate round the clock and produce greater output during testing times.

Consequently, ECC accorded approval, in principle, to the proposal regarding amendment in the respective SROs both for the XWDISCOS and K-Electric to charge the off-peak rates against the peak hours. The abolishment of peak and off-peak tariff structure would be implemented w.e.f. 01 November 2020 till 30 April 2021.

 
December 02, 2020 (PR No. 413)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in Islamabad today. Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister for Production and Industries Hammad Azhar, Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood and Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain also participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir joined the meeting through video link.
 
Ministry of Commerce presented a proposal before ECC regarding removal of 5% regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn till 30th June, 2021. After detailed discussion, the Chair approved the removal of regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn to enhance value-added exports.
 
Ministry of Commerce submitted another summary to re-consider the earlier decision taken by ECC dated 19 Oct 2020 regarding procedure for registration under concessionary regime of electricity, RLNG and Gas in export oriented sectors (erstwhile zero-rated sectors). After due deliberation, the Chair directed to maintain status quo with a condition that FBR may register new manufacturers or exporters in five export oriented sectors (erstwhile five zero-rated sectors) in coordination with the Ministry of Commerce till June, 2020.
 
Communication Division requested ECC for conversion of National Highways Authority loans into Government Grant or grant a waive-off for a much needed fiscal space. A detailed presentation was made before the forum to remodel NHA as a self-sustaining and performance based organization. ECC directed to constitute a sub-committee under the Chairmanship of Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and would include SAPM Nadeem Babar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, Secretary Finance and Secretary Communications to prepare a holistic proposal suggesting revenue generation roadmap for NHA within a month. NHA was also granted a one-month moratorium to work out details and present recommendations regarding financial viability of NHA before the forum.
 
ECC recommended a summary presented by the Industries and Production Division to approve release of funds to PSM for payment in lieu of gas supply to SSGC through a Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG).
 
ECC approved allocation of upto 9.5 MMCFD gas from M/s PPL’s Benari X-I discovery to SSGCL. Similarly, allocation of 10 MMCFD gas from PPL’s Hadaf X-I to SSGCL was also approved during the meeting.
 
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs raised the matter of priority berthing for wheat and sugar. ECC directed the Logistics Committee to ensure berthing of wheat and sugar vessels on priority, keeping in view, that other imports are not affected.
 
ECC also accorded approval for allocation of additional funds for maintenance of Islamabad High Court Building and Judges Residences through TSG as requested by the Ministry of Housing and Works.
 
The agenda item on Karachi Transformation Plan, presented by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives was deferred to the next ECC meeting for a detailed discussion. 

 
November 30, 2020 (PR No. 412)

POL Prices

The Government of Pakistan in its endeavour to provide maximum relief to the public has decided to absorb most of the increase in international prices of petroleum products. The prices of MS (Petrol), Kerosene (SKO) and Light Diesel Oil would remain the same w.e.f. 01 December 2020 for the next fifteen days. However, due to significant increase in the international price of High Speed Diesel (HSD), the price of High Speed Diesel has been increased by Rs. 4.00 per liter for the same period.

The following new prices would be effective from 01 December 2020 onwards: (Rs/Liter)

Products

Existing Prices w.e.f.
16-11-2020

New Prices
w.e.f.
01-12-2020
Increase/
(-)Decrease
MS (Petrol) 100.69 100.69 +0.00
HSD 101.43 105.43 +4.00
Kerosene (SKO) 65.29 65.29 +0.00
LDO 62.86 62.86 +0.00
 
November 30, 2020 (PR No. 411)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Federal Secretary Finance, Federal Secretary National Food Security and Research, Secretary Industries and Production, Secretary Commerce, Chairman TCP, MD PASSCO, Chairperson CCP and Manager Utility Stores Corporation also participated in the meeting. The Provincial Chief Secretaries joined the meeting through video link.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of the essential commodities namely wheat flour, sugar, tomatoes, onions, vegetable ghee, potatoes and chicken on weekly basis. The Finance Secretary while presenting the price trend of essential commodities informed that according to latest SPI released by PBS, there is decline in the prices of 10 essential commodities for instance wheat flour, sugar, onions, tomatoes and chicken while the prices of 11 commodities have increased slightly. Price of 30 items remained stable. Adviser Finance expressed satisfaction over declining price trend in wheat flour, sugar, onion and tomatoes as compared to October 2020.

During the meeting, Adviser Finance urged the need to take necessary administrative measures to reduce high profit margin between Wholesale and Retail levels. It is our responsibility to ensure availability of the essential items for the consumers at affordable prices, he stressed.

The Chair held a detailed discussion with the Provincial Chief Secretaries regarding position of wheat and Sugar stocks in the Provinces and it was informed that at present, sufficient quantities are available to meet existing demand. Adviser Finance emphasized the provincial governments to ensure smooth supply of essential items.

Secretary National Food Security and Research presented a brief update on import of wheat during the meeting. The Logistics Committee played a key role in resolving issues related to wheat and sugar stocks among provinces, he underlined.

Provincial governments and USC should reassess their import requirements for wheat and sugar and take up with the Ministry of NFS&R accordingly and the matter may be placed before ECC for approval. M/o Industries & Production will take up the requirement of wheat and sugar for USC with PASSCO & TCP immediately.

The Chair appreciated the efforts being taken by all the Federal Ministries, Provincial Governments and other relevant stakeholders for price control. He added that the same momentum must be maintained to provide maximum relief to the general public. He also stressed that Provincial governments should workout plan to ensure smooth supply of perishable items to avoid any undue price hike.

 
November 26, 2020 (PR No. 410)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed the inaugural meeting of the Pay and Pension Commission 2020

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addressed the inaugural meeting of the Pay and Pension Commission 2020. The Commission is headed by Ms. Nargis Sethi and is composed of senior professionals from the Public and Private sectors as well as serving Federal and Provincial Secretaries, AJK and GB and other senior officials of all the governments, who were also in attendance.

Speaking on the occasion, the Advisor Finance expressed confidence that the Pay and Pension Commission will come up with a financially viable solution to streamline the basic pay scales of Government employees, admissible allowances and pensions. The Commission would follow a consultative process to resolve the burgeoning expenditure on the Government exchequer. The current model for disbursement of pay and pensions is not sustainable, he added. While assuring the Commission his full support, the Advisor recommended to the Commission that the government is willing to consider Commission’s recommendation even prior to the finalisation of the Report.

Ms. Nargis Sethi, Chairperson of the Pay & Pension Commission briefed about the rationale and mandate of the P & P Commission. She explained that the Commission would review the existing pay and pension structures, allowances, perks & facilities and also to evaluate possibilities of their monetization.

The Chairperson outlined formation of sub-committees which have been assigned terms of reference to deliberate on prevailing pay and pension system across the country. The success of the P & P Commission is dependent on provision of reliable & authentic data in a timely manner from all concerned, she stressed.

 
November 26, 2020 (PR No. 409)

British High Commissioner called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

British High Commissioner, H.E Dr. Christian Turner called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in Islamabad today.

The Adviser exchanged views with the High Commissioner on matters of common interest. The Adviser briefed him about the measures taken by the Government to lessen the adverse economic impact and protect vulnerable segments of the society during the coronavirus pandemic. The Adviser shared the economic outlook for Pakistan with the High Commissioner and highlighted that Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances, FDI, tax collection and had a current account surplus during the first quarter of FY 2020-21. He also explained that owing to the strategy of smart lockdown, the economy has started to recover pace.

The High commissioner offered to provide all possible help from the British Government for the people of Pakistan in mitigating the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. The Adviser thanked the High Commissioner for his assistance.

 
November 25, 2020 (PR No. 408)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed "Annual Microfinance Conference"

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed “Annual Microfinance Conference (AMC)” as a guest of honor, held in Islamabad today.

While speaking on the occasion, Adviser Finance outlined National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which aims at achieving inclusive economic growth through promotion of small and medium enterprises, easy and affordable access to finance for farmers, facilitation in low-cost housing finance and provision of Shariah compliant banking solutions.

Adviser Finance highlighted the proactive measures taken by the Government to lessen the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 including loans deferred for one year and Rozgar Scheme (payroll Protection). Over 03 million borrowers benefitted with approx. Rs.140 bn loans rescheduled or deferred during the current crisis. The Rozgar Scheme has proved to be highly effective in improving liquidity position and saving millions of jobs, he added.

Due to prudent and timely policies of the Government, Adviser Finance highlighted that economic revival is taking place as Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) registered 4.8% growth, cement sector 20% growth with 100% capacity utilization and significant increase in sale of cars, motorbikes and tractors during July to October 2020. Moody’s upgraded Pakistan’s economic outlook to ‘stable’ in August 2020. Pakistan is heading in the right direction, he concluded.

 
November 25, 2020 (PR No. 407)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed the plenary session of the WEF

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed the second segment of the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Country Strategy Dialogue (CSD) through video link today.

During his virtual address, Adviser Finance briefed the forum that the current Government inherited a very precarious economic situation in 2018 and therefore, had to introduce strict financial discipline to curtail excessive Government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage imports. As a consequence, Pakistan witnessed remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits. Similarly, Pakistan had a primary balance surplus which is unprecedented. All fundamental economic indicators reflected significant improvement before COVID-19.

During COVID-19, Government of Pakistan introduced “Smart Lockdown” to balance the imperative to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional. The Smart lockdown allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact and support the vulnerable segment of the society. To provide relief to vulnerable groups especially daily wage earners, Government of Pakistan gave cash payments to 15 million families under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program”.

Adviser Finance outlined that amid COVID-19, Government has taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery. A relief package for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness. The recent data complements the strengthening and expansion of the economy in ’’recovery’’ mode. Despite COVID-19, Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and FDI which is a clear reflection of confidence in Pakistan’s economy.

Adviser Finance reiterated that the Government firmly supports private sector as an engine of growth and believes in building institutional capacity for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. “We followed a liberal foreign investment regime and introduced measures to promote ease of doing business in the country”, he stated.

He said that the current leadership welcomes foreign investors and believes in transparency, accountability and openness. Our agenda is to empower people with key focus on human resource development, Adviser Finance concluded.

 
November 23, 2020 (PR No. 406)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) today. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Federal Secretary Finance, Federal Secretary National Food Security and Research, Secretary Industries and Production, Secretary Commerce, Chairman TCP, Chairperson CCP and Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation also participated in the meeting. The Provincial Chief Secretaries joined the meeting through video link.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) reviewed the price trend of the essential commodities namely wheat flour, Sugar, Tomatoes, Onions, Vegetable Ghee, Potatoes and Chicken on weekly basis. The Finance Secretary while presenting the price trend of essential commodities informed that according to latest SPI released by PBS, there is decline in the prices of wheat flour, sugar, onions while the prices of tomatoes, potatoes and chicken have slightly increased. It was informed that prices of vegetable ghee have remained unchanged. The committee was also informed about the price variation among the Provinces and the profit margin between wholesale and the retail.

The Chair held a detailed discussion with the Provincial Chief Secretaries regarding position of wheat and Sugar stocks in the Provinces. NPMC was briefed that sufficient quantities are available across the country. Adviser Finance emphasized that the provincial governments and all other concerned authorities take immediate proactive measures to control increase in prices.

During the meeting, Adviser Finance urged the representatives of the Provincial Governments to strictly monitor the difference between Retail and Wholesale prices in various commodities to ensure availability of the essential items for the consumers at affordable price.

Chief Secretary Sindh informed that Atta and sugar prices have declined in the province which will further stabilize in coming weeks. He also briefed that the Sindh government has established fair price shops to provide relief to general public. However, the chicken prices are slightly increasing and they are taking corrective measures accordingly.

Additional Chief Secretary Punjab informed that the prices of tomatoes are fluctuating due to seasonal factors but it will stabilize in coming weeks. He further briefed that the prices in the 360 sahulat bazar are low as compared to open market. He also informed that government of Punjab is releasing wheat as per policy as a result the atta prices have stabilized.

The Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa informed that they are releasing five thousand tons wheat daily as a result the prices of wheat flour bag have came down Rs. 20 to 30 in the market. It was also informed that local production of tomatoes in KP has started coming in the market; it is expected that in coming weeks the supply of tomatoes will increase significantly which will bring major decline in the price.

The Punjab and the Sindh Governments also briefed about the new crushing season of sugarcane and underlined that price of sugar would be reduced further due to availability of the local produce in the coming months.

MD, USC apprised NPMC about the sufficient stocks of sugar and wheat at the Utility Stores across Pakistan at subsidized price.

 
November 20, 2020 (PR No. 405)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet here at Islamabad. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, also participated in the meeting.

ECC evaluated a proposal submitted by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination and approved, in principle, the provision of technical supplementary grant of US$ 150 million for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ministry of Health briefed the ECC that this shall be the first phase of procurement and the amount of vaccine will suffice for the most vulnerable 5% of the population i.e the health workers and the population above the age of 65 years; around 10 million people would be provided a vaccine cover under the above arrangement. ECC further directed the Ministry of National Health Services to discuss the proposal with WB and other donors in coordination with Economic Affairs Division so that they could assist in providing financial facility for the procurement of the vaccine during the first phase and for the procurement of additional quantities in future as needed. The forum also directed the Ministry of NHS to draw a holistic proposal regarding the pricing and risk mitigation mechanism for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine for provision on a wider scale, in consultation with the relevant stake holders.

ECC approved the request of the Economic Affairs Division to proceed with the formal request for availing the G-20 Debt Relief for the extended period i.e January-June 2021; approval of the Federal Cabinet would be required for signing of the bilateral debt service suspension agreements.

ECC also approved two technical supplementary grants for “Initiating the Process of Retrenchment of Pakistan Steel Mills Employees (PSM)” for an amount of Rs.19.656 billion and “Prime Minister’s Special Package to Implement SKILLS FOR ALL Strategy as Catalyst for TVET Sector Development in Pakistan for Rs. 500 million. Rs. 689.3 million were also approved as budget re-appropriation for National Information Technology Board (NITB) for fulfilling its various requirements during the meeting.

ECC also approved the proposal by the Ministry of Energy/ Petroleum Division for the allocation of 2.25 MMCFD gas from Umair -1 to M/s OGDCL for sale to M/s Engro at a mutually agreed and negotiated price, under a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement subject to initiation of Field Development Plan and Development and Production Lease.

ECC was also briefed on the status of wheat import through Trade Corporation of Pakistan. Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the forum on the provision of additional 340,000 MT of Wheat, a tender was floated on 11-10-2020; the bids were opened on 18-10-2020 and lowest bid was accepted. The total quantity to be imported is now 2.248 MMT.

 
November 18, 2020 (PR No. 404)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed “THE FUTURE SUMMIT” through video link

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed “THE FUTURE SUMMIT” today through video link. He shared his thoughts on the topic titled “The Future of Pakistan”.

Addressing the Summit, the Adviser Finance stated that Pakistan enjoys natural advantage to its strategic location, agricultural potential, mineral resources, vast coastlines and close proximity to resource rich Central and South Asian States. He said that economic prosperity cannot be achieved without transferring benefits of growth to the masses; an inclusive growth is the key to sustainable economic development which has far reaching benefits for all, he added. The Adviser also outlined Government’s policy of opening up local markets for foreign investors and facilitating them for business development and employment generation in the country.

The Adviser said that the focus of the present government is on building institutions and streamlining procedures for sustainable economic growth. He shared the details regarding unprecedented reforms introduced by the present Government. He further said that the Primary and Current Account Balance are positive for the first time. The government has returned Rs. 5000 billion of foreign loans in 2 years; has given Rs. 250 billion in tax refunds to businesses allowing more liquidity, lucrative packages have been introduced for Export promotion and special package introduced for SMEs. He said the Rs. 1.2 trillion package given by the Government during COVID-19 pandemic is an example of government being sensitive to the sufferings of the people during testing times.

Private sector has to take lead role in providing services and employment in the markets. This is the way to sustainable development, Adviser concluded.

The Adviser thanked the CEO Nutshell for arranging the seminar and inviting him for sharing his views.

 

 
 
November 16, 2020 (PR No. 403)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of CCoP

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) here at the Cabinet Division.

The committee considered and approved the “Transaction Structure” for the divestment of 96.6% shares of Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC). CCoP also directed the Ministry of Industries and Production for the amicable and earliest resolution of issues related to regular employees of HEC. CCoP also instructed the Power Division (Ministry of Energy) to consider extending the validity of Type Testing License of Heavy Mechanical Complex.

CCoP also constituted a committee, chaired by Minister for Industries and Production, its members include Chairman Board of Investment, Chairman Privatization Commission, Secretary Finance, Adviser to PM on Austerity and Institutional Reforms and SAPM on Energy, to improve upon the transaction structure for Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation in consultation with the appointed Financial/Transaction Adviser for further incorporation of market requirements.

CCoP also approved the recommendation of the Privatization Commission Board to authorize the Chairman/Secretary of the Privatization Commission to inturn, authorize officers of the Commission to open, operate and close accounts in scheduled banks for the execution of privatization transactions including other operations in compliance with SBP guidelines.

The Financial Adviser appointed by the Privatization Commission (PC) for the sale of properties owned or controlled by the Federal Government briefed the CCoP on the Bid Price for the auctioned properties and sought guidelines for the remaining part of the transactions. ECC was briefed that out of the 27 properties, the bid price for 23 has been received. CCoP directed the FA to recommend a way forward on 2 unsold properties in Multan and Rahim Yar Khan. The committee also directed to engage the Chief Secretaries of KP and Punjab to resolve pending issues relating to 2 properties in Swat and Lahore.

In order to smoothly conduct the process of privatization, CCoP approved a Model questionnaire that would help in gathering all the relevant information regarding the entity that has been approved for privatization. The committee also directed that all Ministries/Divisions and SOEs (having assets in the privatization list) will provide information required in the model questionnaire to the Privatization Commission within 30 days from the date such request reaches the Ministry/ Division/SOE.

CCoP also constituted a Committee to look into various sectoral issues related to the Privatization of National Power Parks Management Company Limited. The Committee will include Adviser Finance and Revenue, Minister for Privatization, Secretaries of Finance, Power & Petroleum Divisions, SAPM on Energy and representatives of NEPRA as members and will meet within week to deliberate on the way forward. This Committee will specify issues and set up guidelines for addressing all the pending issues with relevant quarters.

CCoP approved the Transaction Structure for the Privatization of the House Building Finance Company Limited. The decision was already taken in CCoP of August 21st 2020 but not ratified by the cabinet (for the want of some additional information regarding the profitability and other issues of the entity). The Privatization Commission briefed the CCoP that if the transaction proceeds ahead, the new investor can bring in capital, operational expertise, capacity enhancement of HBFCL and new product development, which would eventually enhance its profitability and market share in housing mortgage for middle and low income groups of the society. CCoP accepted the proposal for moving ahead with the transaction structure for divestment.

In order to fully comply with the requirements of section 35 of the Privatization Commission Ordinance, 2000, CCoP approved the guidelines for all concerned Ministries/ Divisions to ensure that the management of Public Sector Enterprises, falling under the domain of the Privatization Commission, runs smoothly. The guidelines direct all concerned to comply with the model checklist of the actions that may be taken/ should not be taken by an Enterprise on the Privatization list, as well as other instructions issued by the Privatization Commission for each transaction from time to time. The CCoP directed to resolve all the issues concerning a PSE before the initiation of its privatization process and fully cooperate with the PC during the process and inclusion of the members of the Privatization Commission Board and other officers on the Boards of representative PSEs borne on the privatization list, as deemed appropriate on recommendations of the PC Board.

 
November 16, 2020 (PR No. 402)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of ECC

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at Cabinet Division today. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Baber and Advisor to the PM for Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain attended the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir also participated through video link.

ECC approved budgetary allocation in favour of NITB for provision of ICT services at the Prime Minister’s Office for Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Programme for FY/2020-21 to the tune of Rs.53 million as requested by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

In light of a summary presented by the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication regarding manufacturing of SIMs/Smart-cards in Pakistan, after due deliberation, the Chair directed to constitute a Committee to examine the proposal and present a report for a way forward within two weeks. The Committee would be chaired by the Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar and would include representatives from the Ministry of IT & Telecom., FBR and Board of Investment (BOI).

Likewise, ECC recommended to form a Committee consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) to decide a timeline for export of Mango and Kinnow as deemed suitable by the aforesaid committee after due consultation with the stakeholders.

ECC gave concurrence to the proposal by the Petroleum Division, in principal, regarding allocation of gas from Bashar X-IST to third party up to 1.0 MMCFD.

Lastly, a summary was presented by the PIACL, Aviation Division before ECC regarding GOP cash support for the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS). After through discussion, it was decided to approve, in principal, the voluntary separation from service scheme for PIA.

ECC also approved four separate Technical Supplementary Grants for the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior for various projects during current FY 2020-21.

 
November 15, 2020 (PR No. 401)

POL Prices

The Government has decided to reduce the prices of Ms petrol by Rs 1.71 and high speed diesel by Rs.1.79. The new prices of petroleum products will be as under:

Ms petrol Rs. 100.69 / litre
High speed diesel Rs.101.43
Kerosene oil Rs. 65.29
Light diesel oil Rs.62.86.

These prices will be applicable from 16 November 2020.

 
November 13, 2020 (PR No. 400)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a virtual meeting of FBR Technical Committee

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a virtual meeting of FBR Technical Committee today. Chairman FBR Muhammad Javed Ghani and other senior officials participated in the meeting. Mr. Abid Shaban, Chairman of the Committee gave a detailed presentation during the meeting.

After due deliberation, it was decided to engage experts as co-opted members to streamline the working of the Technical Committee. Representatives of the Commerce and Industries Divisions would also be included to further strengthen the Technical Committee.

During the meeting, ‘FASTER’ system of Sales Tax Refund for exporters was appreciated. It was agreed that both FASTER and Rebates Systems would be fine-tuned for more efficient results on priority basis.

Technical Committee directed the Ministry of Commerce to clear the backlog with reference to DLTL refunds expeditiously.

FBR would devise a strategy for liquidation of pending income tax returns. Adviser Finance urged the Technical Committee to simplify relevant procedures ensuring clarity and transparency in revenue collection.

 
November 12, 2020 (PR No. 399)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of Advisory Committee

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Advisory Committee for the release of unsold spectrum of next generation mobile services (NGMS) today at the Finance Division. Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry also participated in the meeting.

The Committee was briefed by Chairman PTA and Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology about the latest developments on the sale of available spectrum of next generation mobile services. The members of Frequency Allocation Board also shared their input on the subject. The Committee was briefed that the process for hiring of the consultant for the sale of available spectrum would be completed within 60 days and report will be prepared and submitted before the Committee accordingly. It is expected that the initial report will be ready by December 2020. The process for the sale of spectrum will follow after the hiring of the consultant and tentatively would be completed within current financial year.

Adviser Finance, as Chairman of the Committee, directed to complete the task of the hiring of the consultant at the earliest. He also stated that the whole process of auction must be transparent and an officer may be designated to apprise the public about the progress regarding sale of spectrum on regular basis. The whole process would contribute towards strengthening and expanding communications / IT Services across the country, would create more job opportunities, and improve the ease of doing business.

The next meeting of the Advisory Committee is expected to take place in December 2020.

 
November 11, 2020 (PR No. 398)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with Country Director, World Bank

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with Country Director World Bank (WB) Mr. Najy Benhassine, Ms. Melinda Good, Operations Manager WB, Mr Rikard Liden, Lead Energy Specialist (joined through video conferencing) and Mr. Shabih participated from the World Bank while Mr. Tabish Gohar SAPM on Power, Mr. Kamran Ali Afzal Special Secretary Finance and Chairman FBR participated as government’s management team.

While welcoming the Country Director, Advisor Finance outlined that the World Bank team has always been a source of support in pursuing Pakistan’s reform agenda and implementing various development projects for Pakistan. The Country Director thanked the Advisor for streamlining processes for the completion of various projects which are of bilateral interest.

The Adviser and the World Bank discussed a range of initiatives being undertaken in various areas, including energy, debt management, GST harmonisation and strengthening financial management.

The Country Director appreciated the efforts made by the Government on various fronts and offered all possible assistance in preparing an “Immunization program against COVID-19” if the test results of the vaccines are successful and approved for administration. The Adviser thanked the WB team and assured all possible synergy in various ongoing projects.

 
November 09, 2020 (PR No. 397)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at the Cabinet Division.

In light of the recommendations of the meeting of the Coordination Committee of the ECC on wheat, held on 8th November 2020, it was decided that a subcommittee under the guidance of SAPM on Revenue would be constituted in consultation with the Ministries of Finance, Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) and the provincial governments to work out the total volume of subsidy involved on imported and local wheat.

ECC also discussed the issues related to demand and supply of wheat in the country. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research reported that the wheat imported under the G2G arrangement from Russia will reach the country within this month and there will be no shortage of the commodity in the country. 

It was also decided to form a Logistics Committee in order to resolve the day-to-day logistic issues of wheat import. The Committee comprises of Secretary NFS&R (Convener), Secretaries/representatives of Finance, communication, Maritime Affairs, Commerce, Industries and Production, Railways and MD PASSCO, Chairman TCP, DG NLC, Port Authority, Provincial Governments and Private Transporters. The Committee will deal with day-to-day interagency issues and matters related to priority berthing, axle load, lifting of cargo and any other ancillary matter.

 
November 06, 2020 (PR No. 396)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at Cabinet Division, Islamabad today.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and Advisor to the PM for Institutional Reforms & Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain attended the ECC. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir and Provincial Chief Secretaries also participated through video link.

After due deliberation, ECC took key decisions with reference to demand and supply of wheat to stabilize local market and to reduce the wheat flour prices across the country.

As directed by the Prime Minister, a Coordination Committee was constituted to deal with import of wheat and its logistics and distribution to the recipient agencies. The Committee will be chaired by the Adviser Finance and would include Advisor to the PM for Institutional Reforms & Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Minister for Industries and Production Mr. Hammad Azhar, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam and Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir. It would also include Secretaries Finance, NFS&R, Communications, Commerce, Maritime Affairs, Railways and Chief Secretaries of Balochistan, KPK, Punjab and Sindh for smooth coordination.

After detailed discussion, the ECC approved Minimum Support-Price (MSP) for the wheat crop as Rs.1650 per 40kg. At the same time, current release price was maintained at Rs.1475 per 40kg.

After thorough consultation, ECC also approved grinding ratio of wheat at the base level of 70:30. It was further decided that ratio for the refined varieties of wheat flour would be decided by the Coordination Committee later.

The ECC also approved aggregate release of wheat @38,000 MT per day to the flour mills. Representatives of all the Provincial Governments were on board. This included 25,000 MT by Punjab, 8,000 MT by Sindh, 4,000 MT by KPK and 1,000 MT by Balochistan.

ECC also approved the request by the Government of Punjab to provide additional 0.7 MMT of wheat, out of which 0.4 MMT of wheat will be imported by TCP for Punjab.

Lastly, technical supplementary grant for the settlement of outstanding dues of non-litigant retired employees of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) amounting to Rs.11.680 billion was also approved by the ECC.

 
November 05, 2020 (PR No. 395)

Chinese Ambassador called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Nong Rong called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Finance Division in Islamabad.
Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh warmly welcomed the new Ambassador and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest during the meeting.

Adviser Finance briefed the Chinese envoy on enhancement of economic cooperation under the umbrella of CPEC, the fragile economy inherited by the present Government, the remarkable economic stability achieved in the pre-COVID-19 period especially in the external sector, the adverse socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fiscal relief initiatives taken by the Government during the coronavirus crisis. He appreciated the continuous and unwavering support that China has always extended to Pakistan during testing times.

His Excellency Mr. Nong Rong stressed that the China-Pakistan bilateral relationship is an epitome of enduring friendship and brotherhood. While discussing progress on CPEC projects, the Ambassador said that collaboration between the peoples and the Governments of China and Pakistan would continue to expand and strengthen for achieving common objectives and guarantee a prosperous future for both the nations.

Adviser Finance expressed confidence that H.E. Mr. Nong Rong’s tenure would further solidify the friendship between the two brotherly countries. He assured his full cooperation during Mr. Rong’s diplomatic assignment in Pakistan.

 
November 04, 2020 (PR No. 394)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue held a virtual meeting with the Chief Minister Sindh

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh held a virtual meeting with the Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah to discuss an optimum support price for the wheat crop during FY-2020-21. Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Secretary Finance and Secretary NFS&R also participated in the meeting.

Adviser Finance exchanged views with the Chief Minister Sindh for a coherent wheat support price across Pakistan. During the meeting, Adviser Finance stressed the need for agreeing upon a well-coordinated support price to strike a balance between producers and consumers and ensure maximum productivity during the FY 2020-21. Adviser Finance concluded that there is a need to look at a holistic picture for determining a minimum support price for wheat crop, keeping in view, its financial implications in the long run.

 
November 04, 2020 (PR No. 393)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here today.

ECC approved technical supplementary grants for NAB, Ministry of Health for immunization program, Ministry of Religious Affairs on account of Hajj Expenses and for Anti-Narcotics Force.

ECC formed a committee with all the relevant stakeholders (Finance Division, Power and Petroleum Division, Planning Division, SECP, OGRA, OGDCL, PSO, SNGPL, PPL, GHPL, PLL) to prepare a proposal on modalities for clearing the circular debt of the Petroleum Division. The committee will prepare a well-rounded proposal in a month and submit before the ECC. ECC also decided that the issue of circular debt may be considered holistically and a solution may be worked out to resolve the issue.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research updated the ECC on the situation of wheat import in the country. The Ministry briefed ECC that TCP has opened the 6th tender for 110,000MT of wheat and after price matching the total picked up quantity would be 320,000MT. MNFS&R also informed that there will be sufficient availability of wheat in the country by January 2021 and with the increase in supply, the prices would be lowered eventually. ECC also enhanced the quota of Gilgit Baltistan by another 10,000 MT as per their request (from 150,000 MT to 160,000 MT). The modalities for increased quota for GB shall be decided later.

 
October 31, 2020 (PR No. 392)

POL Prices

The Government decided to reduce prices of Ms Petrol by Rs1.57/litter and High Speed Diesel by Rs0.84/litter.

New prices will be as under:
Ms Petrol Rs 102.40/ltr
High Speed Diesel Rs 103.22/ltr
Kerosene Oil Rs 65.29/ltr
Light Diesel Oil Rs.62.86/ltr

New prices will be applicable from 1st November 2020.

 
October 29, 2020 (PR No. 391)

ECC approves the "PM's Package for Rabi Crops-Specially wheat"

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the special meeting of the ECC today to approve the “PM’s Package for Rabi Crops-Specially wheat".

In order to give the incentives to the farmers for the upcoming Rabi season, the Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on 27-10-2020 constituted a special committee to design the package to reduce the input cost for the farmers with the special intent to increase the production of wheat in the country.

According to the package Rs.1000/per 50 kg bag will be given as subsidy on fertilizers; DAP, P and K fertilizers. The Federal and Provincial government will share the subsidy in 70% and 30% ratio. On weedicides @ Rs. 250 per acre and fungicides @ Rs.150 will be given by the Federal Government as subsidy. The provinces will distribute the subsidy in their already prevalent manner but will be responsible for ensuring transparency. The Federal funds for the subsidy will be directly disbursed to the provinces by the Finance Division on the basis of their share, keeping in view their system strength and overall outreach. The Ministry of National Food Security would examine the provinces’ demand for funds and after its recommendation Finance Division shall transfer the funds to the provinces. It was also decided that the provinces will expand, improve and up-grade their subsidy disbursement systems. The package will be presented in the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday for approval by the Federal Cabinet.

 
October 28, 2020 (PR No. 390)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC approved the Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs. 109.47 million to the Ministry of Defence for the survey of the coastal areas. The amount was surrendered by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs as the Pakistan Army has offered to assist in the survey.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs also presented another summary for the waiver of demurrage charges on Afghan Transit Cargo/ Afghan bound containers stranded at Karachi ports. Earlier the government had decided to ask the terminal operators to waive of 75% of the demurrage charges on Afghan Transit containers / cargo landing at ports from 22nd March to 30th September 2020(Covid-19 period) including refund of demurrage charges already recovered from such importers of Afghan bound transit container/cargoes. The Minister for Maritime Affairs advised TO’s to approach their principals for approval of 75% of demurrage charges by 5-10-2020. After the Terminal Operators showed their inability to accede to the Ministry’s request, the matter was brought to the ECC for guidance. ECC directed that the same committee that has been engaged with the terminal operators should again negotiate with the operators to reach an amicable solution to the issue.

In order to facilitate the Telecom sector by the waiver of certain taxes, ECC decided that the proposal may be granted approval in Principle. ECC further directed that a subcommittee may be constituted, consisting of Adviser to the PM on Revenue, Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms & Austerity, Minister for Industries & production and Adviser Commerce, to prepare a modified proposal in view of the FBR’s response for final approval.

ECC also approved the summary moved by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for the allocation of another 38 MMCFD gas from 3 new wells REHMAN 6,7 and 8 to M/S SSGCL, subject to all regulatory approvals. The price of gas will be as per the applicable petroleum Policy. (The gas will be provided as per availability in the winter months).

ECC granted approval for the renewal of the contract with TAVANIR Iran for the purchase of 104MW of electricity subject to vetting by the Ministry of Law & Justice. The contract, if approved by the Ministry of Law and Justice will be valid till 31st December 2021.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Railways, SAPM on Petroleum, Adviser Commerce, Adviser to PM on Revenue and Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity.

 
October 28, 2020 (PR No. 389)

Adviser to the PM on Finance & Revenue held a virtual meeting with Vice President, ADB

The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, held a virtual meeting with Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank today. The Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division, Mr. Khusro Bakhtiar, Country Director ADB, Ms. Xiaohang Yang, and the Executive Director, ADB, Mr. Shahid Mahmood also attended the meeting.

In his opening remarks, the Adviser Finance appreciated the strong support extended by the ADB for fight against Covid-19. The Adviser acknowledged ADB’s long standing partnership and firm commitment towards Pakistan to bring about essential reforms in priority areas like energy, transport, water and urban services, and the social sector.

The Adviser Finance shared a brief overview on the current economic situation and highlighted the measures taken by the Government to protect the vulnerable from the pandemic. The Government had to shift from its pre-Covid fiscal tightening in order to provide relief to the masses and businesses during these testing times. ADB’s support to the Ehsaas Program was appreciated and areas of mutual interest, like effective resource mobilization and enhancing domestic productivity, were discussed for future collaboration.

Mr. Shixin Chen commended the Prime Minister’s smart lockdown strategy as being ideal in striking a balance between lives and livelihoods. He also lauded the socioeconomic coverage extended to the marginalized section of the society and shared ADB’s commitment to continue its support in the future.

 
October 26, 2020 (PR No. 388)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC decided to propose to the cabinet Rs 1600 as minimum support price (MSP) for wheat crop 2020-2021. It was briefed to the ECC that the support price mechanism plays a pivotal role in boosting wheat production as it stabilizes market and increases profitability of the farmers. Since 2010-2011, MSP for wheat has been revised 4 times. The new price which has been decided by the ECC is close to the price recommended by Punjab, which is the largest producer of wheat in the country.

ECC was also apprised of the Status of wheat import by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). ECC was briefed that till January 2021 TCP shall be able to secure 1 million metric tons of wheat through international bidding. On the request of MNFS&R, ECC decided that the initial allocation of TCP for the import of 1.50 MMT of wheat may be enhanced to 1.80 MMT to cater for the additional requirement of 0.30 MMT demanded by the KP and Sindh for shipment by mid-February. It was also decided that 300,000 MT of wheat shall be imported on G2G basis from the Russian Federation by PASSCO. ECC endorsed the request of Ministry of Food to import another 320,000 from Russia under the G2G arrangement but constituted a Committee of Secretaries of Finance, Commerce and Food Ministry to look into the possibility of import of wheat either by PASSCO or TCP. It was also decided that further tendering of wheat may be stopped and TCP may resort to GTG arrangement for additional procurement of wheat. Keeping in view the arrival of the new crop in March 2021, the forum decided that no vessel of imported wheat should be arranged either in public or private sector beyond February 2021.

ECC also decided to release 50% of the tariff differential subsidy to the Power Division. Finance Division has earmarked Rs.140 billion for 2020-21 as Power Division subsidy. The release of Rs.65.8 billion demanded by the Power Division will be used for payments to the power producers in order to maintain adequate liquidity.

On the summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the determination of Gas rate for operations of Fatima fertilizer and Agritech, ECC decided that gas rate of PKR 772/MMBTU with Variable contribution margin@ 186 per bag may be offered to both the units for the period 3rd November 2020 onwards. It was briefed to the ECC that GoP’s share at this gas rate has been estimated by NFDC on the basis of RLNG’s last notified rate for July by OGRA, which is approximately 0.42 Billion. Further, actual payment by GoP for price differential sum to SNGPL may vary due to difference in monthly rate of RLNG.

ECC granted approval for the sale of surplus power available at the incremental rate of Rs. 12.96/kwh to all industrial consumer categories, excluding zero-rated industrial consumers, on the incremental consumption over their respective historical consumption or established benchmark. ECC also formed a committee consisting of Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dr. Waqar Masood, Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Power, Omer Ayub, SAPM Nadeem Babar and SAPM Tabish Gohar to prepare a proposal to include K-Electric in the package. The Committee will also propose whether the package shall continue for one year or three years. The Committee will also analyze the need for any subsidy that will be involved in the package and source for arranging the same and all the issues that may come up in the calculation and distribution of that subsidy.

 
October 23, 2020 (PR No. 387)

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has reviewed Pakistan’s progress on FATF action plan in its Plenary meeting

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has reviewed Pakistan’s progress on FATF action plan in its Plenary meeting on 23rd October 2020, and has acknowledged that Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now “largely addressed”21 of the 27 action items. The FATF has taken note of the significant progress made by Pakistan on a number of action plan items. Recognizing Pakistan’s sustained and irreversible efforts on implementation of FATF Action Plan, the FATF has upgraded overall 9 Action Plan items in its October 2020 Plenary. There is no item remaining in the "incomplete" category. It is pertinent to mention here, prior to this plenary, Pakistan had addressed 14 out of 27 items and now FATF reviewed compliance of remaining 13 Action Plan Items during current plenary.

The action plan items that have been addressed by Pakistan include highly important areas of Financial Sector, illegal Hawala/Hundi, cross-border currency regime, international cooperation in terrorist financing cases, amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, implementation of targeted financial sanctions by financial institutions, applying sanctions for AML/CFT violations, and controlling facilities and services owned or controlled by designated persons and entities. This is indicative of the confidence of FATF on the efforts of Pakistani Government.

However, in view of the 6 items in “Partially Addressed” category, the plenary meeting decided to maintain status quo with respect to classification of Pakistan, for the time being. Considerable work has already been carried-out on these six items. Pakistan shall continue to make efforts to complete the remaining items in line with its strategy by February 2021. FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan’s Progress in February 2021.

The Plenary meetings of FATF were held virtually from 18-23 October 2020, where its members discussed a variety of topics including Pakistan’s progress. The Pakistan team led by Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister of Industries and Production, attended these virtual meetings. Pakistan presented its case in an effective manner and also reaffirmed its political commitment to continue with the efforts to complete the Action Plan.
 
October 22, 2020 (PR No. 386)

Adviser to the PM on Finance & Revenue held a virtual meeting with Managing Director, World Bank

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh held a virtual meeting with Mr. Axel Van Trotsenburg, Managing Director, World Bank and Mr. Hartwing Schafer, Vice President SAR, World Bank as part of virtual annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank 2020. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Mr. Khusro Bakhtiar and SAPM on Petroleum, Mr. Nadeem Babar. Governor State Bank, Dr. Reza Baqar also participated in the meeting through video link.

Adviser Finance appreciated the role of the World Bank in extending assistance to Pakistan to provide much-needed fiscal space to fight COVID-19 pandemic effectively. World Bank is our long-running development partner, he added.

In his remarks, Adviser Finance gave an overview of the current economic situation and highlighted reforms for sustainable economic growth. The Government of Pakistan has followed an aggressive policy for curtailing Govt expenditure and focused on raising revenus by mobilizing internal resources. Tax collection increased by 17% before COVID-19 crisis. The primary deficit was in surplus in March 2020 which was a great achievement. Unfortunately, the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has reversed the economic gains, he stated.

Adviser Finance underlined that Govt of Pakistan devised a mechanism for cash transfer to support 16 million deserving families during testing times. The Ehsaas Program was acknowledged due to its transparency and in-time facilitation during the pandemic. Likewise, Government took numbers of steps to keep small businesses afloat by sharing the load through subsidies on pay rolls etc.

On the occasion, SAPM on Petroleum and Minister for Economic Affairs briefed about the efforts underway in the energy sector for bringing efficiency into the system by streamlining ageing power plants in the Government sector and commitment to resort to renewable energy in future.

The World Bank appreciated the reform agenda of the present Government and reiterated commitment to support Pakistan through IDA 2020 during COVID-19 crisis.

 
October 22, 2020 (PR No. 385)

Chairman Complaint Oversight Committee of the FBR called on Adviser to the PM on Finance & Revenue

Mr. Mussadaq Zulqarnain- Chairman Complaint Oversight Committee of the FBR called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the FBR Headquarters today. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood also attended the meeting.

The members of the Complaint oversight Committee sought guidance from the Adviser Finance and Adviser Revenue on the mechanism for setting up an efficient complaint resolution system with cooperation from the tax authorities.

Adviser Finance directed that the Committee shall design a system for complaint registration and will work on establishing links with the tax authorities for their timely resolution. The Committee will devise a mechanism to ensure genuine grievances are amicably resolved in a timely manner. Adviser Finance directed Chairman FBR to collaborate with the Committee for better service delivery to the people and enhancing people friendly image of the FBR.

 
October 22, 2020 (PR No. 384)

Co-CEO VEON & CEO Jazz called on Adviser to the PM on Finance & Revenue

Mr. Sergi Herrero, Co-Chief Executive Officer VEON, along with Mr. Aamir Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer Jazz and Syed Fakhar Ahmad, Chief Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Jazz, called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the FBR Headquarters, Islamabad today.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mr. Herrero shared with the Adviser Finance that he greatly admired the warmth and hospitality of the people of Pakistan. He also briefed the Adviser on the operations of the company across the world and their future business plans during the meeting.

The Adviser Finance welcomed Mr. Herrero and commended the efforts of the telecommunication industry during the Pandemic for providing access to data / information and helping in transfer of funds to the poor who needed assistance from the government.

The CEO also discussed with the Adviser certain issues related to taxation and requested for facilitation. The CEO also requested for an amicable solution on matters pending in the court of law. The Adviser Finance assured all possible cooperation to the company.

 
October 22, 2020 (PR No. 383)

Adviser to the PM on Finance & Revenue chaired the 3rd meeting of the FBR Policy Board

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the 3rd meeting of the FBR Policy Board at the FBR Headquarters today.

After the approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, the members proceeded with the discussion on the proposed ToRs of the Policy Board; prepared by the Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar and Mr. Abdullah Yousaf, former Chairman FBR. The Subcommittee presented the proposed ToRs before Policy Board for discussion. The members of the Board gave their valuable input to fine tune the same. There was extensive discussion on the task assigned to another sub-committee which included Mr. Hammad Azhar and Faiz-ullah- Kamoka for designing a mechanism of data sharing between FBR and NADRA. During the meeting, the Chair also inquired on the progress of clearance of containers on the Torkham Borders.

The Chair was briefed that the situation is back to normal at the Torkham Border and the trade is business as usual. The current situation, due to the COVID-19, is no longer the cause of concern for the traders.

On the proposed ToRs, the Chair, after detailed discussion with all the members of the Board, gave certain guidelines to refine the proposed ToRs under the supervision of the Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood Khan. Adviser Finance Hafeez Shaikh reiterated the need to broaden the tax net through the use of data, already available with FBR, without burdening the existing tax payers and advised Special Assistant to PM on Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan to formulate a proposal for liaison between NADRA and FBR for data analysis to fulfill the requirements of FBR and ensure all stakeholders are on board.

Adviser Finance directed that the Policy Board may also look into important issues that need special attention of the Government regarding tax collection and trade management. He further directed that the next meeting of the Board may be convened after 2 weeks.

 
October 21, 2020 (PR No. 382)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue addressed the MENAP

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed the Ministers and Governors of Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) Region of the IMF on the occasion of MD IMF’s interaction with Ministers and Governors of the Region through video link.

The discussion focused on the impact of Corona Virus on the economies of the region, lessons learnt through the experiences and policy guidelines to be adopted to deal with the crisis of such magnitude which has caught the world by surprise.

The participants thanked the MD IMF Kristalina Georgieva and her team for arranging the discussion and highlighted the need to play a more effective role as a multilateral development partner whose advice would be of much value and importance according to the needs of the changing times. The participants agreed that the virus has exposed the world’s need for health spending and to focus more on technological solutions to various problems. It was observed that after the first wave of the pandemic almost all the countries have lost a significant share of their GDP and unemployment has become the biggest challenge. It was agreed if the second wave comes, losses will be massive and the achievement made by some countries during the crisis will be lost if the preventive measures are not adopted as a part of their everyday life. The participants praised the Debt Suspension Initiative of the G-20 and said that there is also a need to provide more finances to the vulnerable economies. It was a consensus that employment generation, equality and inclusion will be the new challenges from the perspective of women and youth and new strategies will be needed to help the women and youth in the region.

The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance said that the Pandemic has undone a considerable share of the achievements of the Government in Pakistan. Though there were fiscal constraints, after the Pandemic, the Government has devised a strategy to provide whatever it can to its people and businesses by direct cash transfers and sharing the load of various expenditures of the small businesses. “The Government is determined to provide employment and fight in-equality”. He reiterated that if the government wants to continue economic reforms, there are two real challenges; arranging funding for pro-poor expenditures and prioritizing the need for development spending. The Adviser observed that incurring more expenditure to provide for the people at or below the poverty line will require more borrowing as it would not be possible to increase taxes at a time of declining growth in the economy. Adviser Finance said that there was a need to adopt a coherent strategy with the partner countries in the region for development. He added no matter how fair or transparent the Governments are in their intentions and operations this unusual situation has made them realize that there is a need for taking support from their friends and development partners in the form of technical advice and financial support and for that all must contribute.

 
October 21, 2020 (PR No. 381)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC approved two Technical Supplementary Grants for the Ministry of Defence for Rs.17 billion during the current financial year.

ECC also approved the request of the Ministry of Commerce for the inclusion of radiation apparatus in annex-B-1 of the Import Policy Order, 2020.

On the summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for ensuring the supply of RLNG to fulfill the requirements of two fertilizer plants namely Agritech and Fatima Fertilizer for the Rabi Season 2020-21, ECC decided that the supply of RLNG shall continue till the end of November 2020. The three member committee, which was constituted earlier by ECC, under the chairmanship of Minister for Industries and Production and having members from Ministries of Finance and NFS&R shall prepare a proposal for the further operation of these plants after the said period and then bring it to the ECC for further decision.

 
October 19, 2020 (PR No. 380)

ECC forms a committee to suggest MSP of Wheat

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC approved in principle, the procedure for registration under the concessionary regime of electricity, RLNG and gas under the export oriented sectors (erstwhile zero-rated sectors) with instructions to ensure better targeting of the recipients of this subsidy . ECC decided that the previous list of manufacturers or exporters declared zero-rated by FBR (under condition (xii) of the SRO 1125) may be adopted in export oriented sectors. FBR may register new manufacturers or exporters of five export oriented sectors (erstwhile five zero rated sectors), in accordance with past precedents of STGO-117, under Commerce Division’s O.M No.1 (18)/2019 in manner specified by FBR. FBR, Petroleum Division and Power Division may formulate periodic rechecking/monitoring/withdrawal strategy for previous and newly registered units along with procedure to penalize in case of misrepresentation and misuse.

ECC had a detailed discussion on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Wheat in today’s session. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the ECC on different estimates gathered from Punjab, KP, Balcohistan and the Federal Capital. During the discussion, it also came to the fore that there was a need to increase the MSP to support the farmer and to grow enough quantities in the next sowing season. The forum also discussed the need to rationalize the prices of inputs for making them more affordable to the farmers, to support the rural economy through various measures and to increase the supply of wheat in the market so that the flour prices are brought down. It was also discussed to have a better system for gathering data regarding the agriculture sector. ECC decided to form a committee with Syed Fakhar Imam, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, Dr. Ishrat Hussain.Dr. Waqar Masood, Nadeem Baber, Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Asad Umar and Khusroo Bakhtiar as members, to thoroughly evaluate the proposal for the increase in the Minimum Support Price of wheat for the 20-21 crops. The committee shall also prepare a proposal on subsidy on fertilizers mainly DAP which may be offered as a part of the package for the farmers so that their input cost is reasonable/ reduced. It was also decided that the provinces should increase the wheat releases to stabilize/reduce the price of flour in the market. It was decided that the local governments will also be directed to specially monitor the prices of wheat and flour in the markets so that its prices may not be allowed to escalate for the common man. The committee shall present its proposal in the next meeting of ECC.

 
October 14, 2020 (PR No. 379)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division. The meeting was attended by Minister for Food Security, Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, Adviser for Commerce, Abdul Razaq Dawood, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood Khan and Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan. The SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Governor State Bank, Syed Baqar Raza participated through video link.

On the summary moved by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for allocation of additional funds for the payment of media campaigns launched on 5th August (Kashmir Siege Day), ECC decided that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may meet the immediate fund requirement through re-appropriation from its budget allocated for the financial year 2021 and any shortfall due to re-appropriation of the funds would be met through technical supplementary grant towards the end of the current financial year.

Ministry of Energy requested ECC to give directions for the settlement of a loan of about Rs. 7.6 billion and its associated costs from NBP in relation to advance payment for Karkey Karandeniz Elektrik Uretim (KARKEY). ECC decided that Finance division should engage with the National Bank of Pakistan for the settlement of the loan. It was decided that a well-rounded proposal with all stakeholders on board would be presented before ECC for the final approval.

ECC in principle approved technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs.72.635 billion to Power Holding Limited (PHL) for onward disbursements to respective banks or through financial instruments as and when due during the current financial year. In an earlier decision, ECC had decided to shift the power sector debt stock of Rs.804 billion to public debt. As per debt repayment schedule agreed between PHL and lending institutions, an amount of Rs 72.635 billion were required to be paid partially during the FY 2019-20 and remaining is payable in 2020-21 as principal repayments to lenders. Furthermore, the loan amounting to Rs. 82 billion taken from OGDCL and included in the total of Rs.804 billion is required to be considered separately through non-cash/cash settlements. ECC also formed a committee headed by Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, representatives of Finance and Power Divisions to prepare a proposal for the settlement of dues of power sector and other related issues in a holistic manner for onward submission in ECC.

ECC allocated Rs.10 billion from Stimulus Package for the payment of 1st installment of interest/ profit for the period of 21-05-2020 to 20-11-2020 in respect of Pakistan Energy Sukuk-II (amounting Rs.200 billion).

ECC approved the allocation of funds for implementation of the Interest Free Loans (IFL) program by Pakistan Poverty alleviation fund. BISP has surrendered funds amounting to Rs.4.98 billion in favor of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund during the financial year 2020-21 which shall be used for the purpose of the IFL program.

 
October 12, 2020 (PR No. 378)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

Adviser Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) to review the prices of essential perishable commodities, held in Finance Division, Islamabad today. The meeting was attended by Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, Adviser for Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Adviser to PM on Institutional reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary NFS&R, Secretary Planning, Secretary Ministry of Industries & Production, Chief Secretaries from Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Balochistan, Chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan and representatives from Utility Stores and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The NPMC deliberated upon increase in the prices of wheat, sugar and perishable items namely Tomatoes, Onions, Potatoes and Chicken and discussed corrective measures to provide relief to the end consumers. It was stated by the concerned Ministries that the reasons behind the price hike include gap in supply and demand due to climatic factors, upward trend in international prices and increased profit margin between wholesale & retailers particularly in metropolitan areas. There was a general consensus that recent rains and COVID-19 have further aggravated the situation.

Adviser Finance, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, urged all the stakeholders to take drastic measures to curb inflation. In this regard, the role of district market committees was emphasised to curb price variation effectively. The Chief Secretaries were directed to minimize price disparity by streamlining the release of wheat at regular intervals to avoid profiteering.

NPMC also reviewed the timeline for import of wheat and sugar to meet domestic demand for the same. Adviser Finance was briefed that the total public sector procurement for wheat through G2G and TCP is equal to 1.8 MT based on the demand estimates provided by the Provinces and PASSCO. It was also stated that sufficient sugar stocks are available in the country till Nov., 2020.

Adviser Finance also directed Utility Stores to streamline the availability of essential items in order to provide maximum relief to the lowest strata of the society.

Advisor Finance expressed confidence that effective and well-concerted actions by the Provincial Governments and the concerned Ministries will help in controlling the menace of inflation.

 
October 12, 2020 (PR No. 377)

Delegation of SUPARCO called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A delegation of Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) called on Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at Finance Division today. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Mr. Hammad Azhar. The delegation of SUPARCO comprised of Major General Amer Nadeem, Chairman SUPARCO, Major General Abid Mumtaz DG CoP, SPD and other members.

The delegation made a detailed presentation about working of SUPARCO and outlined latest initiatives / projects to be undertaken in near future. Adviser Finance was also briefed about working of satellite services in Pakistan.

In his remarks, Adviser Finance Hafeez Shaikh greatly appreciated the contribution of National Space Agency in promoting new technologies in space and atmospheric sciences in the country and ensured full support in making SUPARCO a commercially viable entity.

 
October 07, 2020 (PR No. 376)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC allowed SNGPL for the recovery of previous revenue shortfall as well as enabling SNGPL to manage the load of the domestic/ commercial sectors by diversion of RLNG in the approaching winter.

ECC constituted a three member committee consisting of Secretary Finance, Secretary Commerce and Secretary National Food Security (as the chairman of the committee) to negotiate the price of wheat with the Russian Government for the further procurement of wheat. Besides, 330,000 MT of wheat when imported by TCP shall be distributed equally among 3 recipient agencies i.e. PASSCO, Punjab and KP (110,000 MT each).

ECC allowed allocation of 8 MMCFD gas from Mangrio discovery and 4 MMCFD of gas from Mithri gas discovery for M/s SSGCL.

ECC also allowed OGRA to issue new CNG Licenses to RLNG based CNG stations with the provision that the Licensee would neither receive indigenous gas or can claim for its conversion to indigenous gas. The ban on the issuance of new licenses was imposed since 2008.

 
October 05, 2020 (PR No. 375)

Meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held under the Chairmanship of the Special Secretary Finance

The meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held under the Chairmanship of the Special Secretary Finance to discuss / evaluate the reasons for increase in prices of essential commodities with particular focus on perishable items. The meeting was convened on the directions of the Prime Minister’s office to discuss the abnormal variation in the prices of perishable items such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions as well as other essential items like wheat, sugar and chicken. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provincial Governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Commerce and National Food Security & Research, along with Competition Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The meeting was informed that CPI inflation year on year is recorded at 9.0 % in September 2020 as against 11.4 percent during the same month last year. The meeting also noted that average inflation during July-September FY 2020-21 also showed a declining trend and recorded at 8.8 percent as compared to 10.1 percent same period last year. It was, however, noted that the profit margin between wholesale and retail has risen especially in potatoes, tomatoes and onions which are affecting the common man.

It was observed during the meeting that an upward trend was witnessed in prices of perishable commodities during Sept-October 2020. The reason cited for the upward pricing trend was unprecedented rainfall which adversely affected the local produce. The price hike is likely to stabilize by November, 2020 onwards when local produce would be available in the markets. It was observed with concern that the difference between wholesale and retail prices of the essential commodities is becoming a serious challenge for the Provinces.

The representative from M/o NFS&R has informed that seven vessels carrying 0.433 million MT of wheat from the private sector have been arrived in the country while TCP has been allowed to import 1.650 million tons. TCP has so far arranged 0.330 million tons which is expected to be arrived in October (4 Ships) and in January 2021(2 Ships).

The representative from Ministry of Industries and Production informed that TCP will import 151,700 tons of sugar. He added that private dealers stocks 0.445 million tons are available till 04th November whereas Sindh Cane Commissioner reported total stock of sugar is at 0.565 million tons which will be available till 9th November 2020. The representative from Punjab government has informed that crushing of sugarcane will be started in the first week of November. Punjab government has imposed heavy fine through legislation in order to expedite the timely crushing of sugarcane whereas the representative from Sindh government also informed that crushing will start by mid of November, 2020.

The NPMC meeting Chaired by the Special Secretary Finance, called upon the district administrations to remain vigilant and control the prices of essential commodities namely tomato, potato, wheat, sugar etc. through strict price enforcement. The focus should be to minimize price disparity between the wholesale and retail prices of the essential commodities which leads to inflation. The Chair urged the Provincial Governments to take corrective measures to check undue profit margin in basic commodities. It was further suggested that Provincial Governments should provide support to market committees in collaboration with district administration to play proactive role by removing price disparity among Provinces and also ensure the smooth supply of essential items.

 
October 02, 2020 (PR No. 374)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC considered and approved the import of 180,000 MT of wheat from Russia on GTG basis waiving off all taxes/levies duties on GTG import of wheat. The forum was informed that about 5 million tons of wheat was available with the public sector in stocks. In terms of import 430,000 tons has already been imported by the private sector and another 1.1 million ton was expected to be imported by the end of December 2020. In terms of wheat import by the public sector, TCP has already opened an LC for importing 330, 0000 MT of wheat while TCP is in the process of tendering another about 1.2 million tons. Another 180,000 tons are imported through GTG arrangement from Russia.

ECC also allowed the exemption from sales tax on supply of sugar imported through Trade Corporation of Pakistan of upto 300,000 MT and allowed the amendment of SRO 751(1)/2020 dated August 20, 2020 of the Revenue Division for the purpose.

 
October 02, 2020 (PR No. 373)

Country Director SAP (software) called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with the Country Director SAP Mr. Saquib Ahmad and his team.

The country director briefed the Adviser Finance on the operations of the Company and how it is providing services in 180 countries of the world. The country director gave proposals for the better use of technology they have already provided to Pakistan and suggested measures for better resource management that require further investments in new technology. The Country Director shared that the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software shall be of special use for the organizations like CDNS, PWD, Railways and Pakistan Post.

The Adviser said that the Finance Division shall provide all possible help in this regard and another meeting on the subject shall be shortly held where sector specific proposals could be discussed.

 
October 01, 2020 (PR No. 372)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECNEC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here at the Cabinet Division.

ECNEC considered and approved the “Simplification of Planning Commission/ Planning Division Development Processes/ Procedure to improve Project Management”(Guidelines). According to the new procedures there are reforms in the following six areas: a) Project Identification and Preparation of PC I, b) processing and approval of PC I, c) Project Management and Staffing, d) Opening of Project Assignment Account, e) Procedure for release of funds, f) Monitoring and Evaluation.

Indus Highway (N-55) Additional Carriageway Project (Shikarpur-Rajanpur section) length: 221.95 KM was also approved by ECNEC. The project will be completed at the total rationalized cost of Rs.44703.890 million. (The Asian Development Bank will also share the cost; Rs.40, 233.500 million). The project which will be completed in 3 years time and envisages construction of additional 2-lanes and widening/ rehabilitation of existing 2-lane carriageway of Shikarpur-Rajanpur section of Indus highway N-55. The total length of Shikarpur- Rajanpur section is 221.950 km that will be upgraded to a 4 lane dual carriageway facility with each lane 3.65m wide. NHA shall be responsible for the execution, operation and maintenance of the project. Federal PSDP has allocated Rs.1000 million for the completion of this project in 2020-2021.

Construction of Rajanpur-DG Khan Section of N-55 as 4 Lane Highway 121.50 Km was approved by ECNEC at the total rationalized cost of Rs.33,172.22 million with ADB share of Rs. 28,528.11 million. The Project will be completed in 3 years by NHA. The project road starts from Rajanpur and passes through Fazilpur, Muhammad Pur Dewan, Jampur and terminates at Dera Ghazi Khan. Federal PSDP has allocated Rs.500 million for the completion of this project in 2020-2021.

Dualization and Rehabilitation of DG Khan- DI Khan Section of N-55(208.19 Km) was approved by ECNEC at the total rationalized cost of Rs.52, 276.53 million with ADB share of Rs. 44,957.82 million. The Project will be completed in 3 years by NHA. The project road starts from DG Khan then passes through Shah Sadar Din, Kala, Shahdan Lund, Taunsa, Tibi Qasrani, Mahra, Paroa and terminates at DI Khan. . Federal PSDP has allocated Rs.500 million for the completion of this project in 2020-2021.

Rehabilitation and upgradation of 79.890 km, Jhaljao- Bela Road at the total rationalized cost of Rs.11, 118.123 million was approved by ECNEC without any foreign exchange component. The project will be completed in 3 years time by NHA . The project road starts from Jhaljao and terminates at Bela, District Awaran. The road traverses through towns of Augani, Sipai sing, Chauki and finally terminates at Bela. It is expected that the completion of the project will save vehicle travel time and vehicle operating costs of commuters. It will also contribute to ensure efficient movement of trade, goods and traffic in relatively shorter time.

Peshawar Northern Bypass Project-32.2 Km was also approved at the 2nd revised cost of Rs 21,338.005 million. The project envisages construction of 32.20 km, 4-lane bypass with service roads on either side, on the northern side of Peshawar city. The total 32.2 Km distance of the Bypass has been divided into three packages for construction purposes. Section I: M-1 Intersection- Charsada Road Interchange (7.60 Km in length). Section II: Charsada Road Interchange- Warsak Road Interchange (11.6 Km). Section III: which has been subdivided in Section 3A and 3B ; Warsak Road to Nasir Bagh Road (5.50 Km) – from Nasir Bagh to end point at Takhtabaig Khwar check post (7.50 Km).

Construction of 157 MW Madian Hydropower project, District Swat, under the World Bank assisted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hydropower and Renewable Energy Development Program was also approved by ECNEC at the total rationalized cost of Rs.79, 374.85 million with FEC of 57,339.33. ECNEC directed that the sponsors will adhere to the IPP regime followed by NEPRA and all cost will be rationalized as per NEPRA cost Structure. The sponsors will hire financial consultants to negotiate tariff and ensure least cost generation at affordable price/ tariff of the Hydropower Project.

Construction of 88 MW Gabral Kalam hydropower Project at an estimated cost of Rs.36,430.188 million including FEC of Rs. 8815.785 million was approved by ECNEC with the following directions: the sponsors will adhere to the IPP regime followed by NEPRA and all cost will be rationalized as per NEPRA cost structure. The sponsors will hire financial consultants to negotiate tariff and ensure least cost generation at affordable price/ tariff of the Hydropower Project. The sponsors will share with CDWP the progress achieved on the milestones given after six months of approval of project from ECNEC.

ECNEC also approved Evacuation of Power from 2160 MW Dasu HPP stage I Dasu to Islamabad via Mansehra at the total cost of Rs.132, 249.84 million with foreign exchange component of Rs. 112,228.74 million. The project is expected to complete in 5 years time and is proposed to be financed by the World Bank. The main objective of the project is the evacuation of power from 2160 MW Dasu hydro power project to respective load centers of DISCOs by construction of 765 kV double circuit transmission line from Dasu Hydropower project to Islamabad via Mansehra.

 
 
 
 
 
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