Sugar export allowed by ECC

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has allowed export of 0.2 million metric tons of sugar within a period of sixty days after the approval of export quota from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). A meeting of the ECC was presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday to consider various proposals. On a proposal of Ministry of Commerce, the meeting allowed the sugar industry to export 200,000 MMT of sugar (without any subsidy).

The meeting decided that export of sugar would be completed within 60 days or by 31st of May 2017 after approval of export quota by State Bank of Pakistan and only those mills would be allowed to export which have cleared outstanding dues of farmers of the last season and have crushed at optimum capacity.

On December 2016, the ECC allowed export of 0.225 million metric tons of sugar till 31st March 2017 with the condition that the Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by the minister for commerce would recommend to the ECC stoppage of further export if domestic price of sugar was negatively impacted. The meeting was informed that Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has now made requests to extend the export period till 31st May 2017 and also sought an increase in export quantity. The requests were referred to Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) for advice and Inter-Ministerial Committee after considering PSMA''s requests and inputs provided by SAB, to make its own recommendations. The ECC gave approval to extending the time line and enhancing the quantity of exports in the light of these recommendations.

The ECC also approved extension in applicability period of reduced rate of withholding tax ie 0.4 per cent, for non-filers up to 30th June 2017. The ECC approved disbursement of one month salary (December 2016) of Rs 380 million among employees of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). The meeting after a discussion on a proposal put forth by Ministry of National Food Security and Research gave approval to public sector procurement of wheat (2016-17) against the target of 7.05 million tons. The financial requirement for the proposed target is estimated at Rs 224.86 billion. On a proposal of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the ECC approved changes in existing procedures for sampling and testing of imported petroleum products. The product would conform to approved specifications notified by the ministry for all importers and would be tested by HDIP laboratory prior to unloading. Sampling of the product for quality analysis would also be carried out by HDIP in the presence of importer''s surveyors.

The ECC was told that in case of quality dispute, if the sample testing by HDIP fails, re-sampling would be made by a third-party surveyor in the presence of authorised representatives of concerned stakeholders including HDIP. The fresh sample, so taken, would be tested in the presence of nominated representatives of the importer and HDIP by another independent laboratory, pre-approved by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

Test results of fresh sample would be final and binding and additionally the OGRA would also independently carry out random sampling from vessels carrying imported petroleum products for testing through any of the laboratories approved by the authority for effective monitoring, quality assurance and greater transparency in the process. The ECC also considered another proposal from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources regarding allocation of gas from Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) Kandhkot field.

The ECC approved that the allocation of 150 MMCFD to Thermal Power Station Guddu (TPSG) (100 MMCFD directly through PPL and 50 MMCFD through SNGPL) which expired on 7th of May 2013 may be validated.

The PPL will supply 50 MMCFD additional gas along with 150 MMCFD, directly to TPSG with effect from 1st of June 2017 or the date of commissioning of TPSG''s new pipeline, whichever is earlier. The entire 200 MMCFD direct gas supply would be subject to minimum 72.5 per cent take-or-pay quantity and outstanding receivables against supply of gas to TPSG would be settled forthwith, subject to reconciliation.