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Pakistan circular debt stands at Rs.596 billion: ECC

30 August, 2018

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The country’s circular debt stands at Rs.596 billion, with an increase of Rs.30 billion in the month of July, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) was told in its first meeting on Wednesday.

In the presentation, the Ministry of Energy, Power Division, officials maintained that since another Rs.582 billion remained parked with power holding companies, the total liability stood at Rs.1,188 billion.

The ECC that met under the chairmanship of Asad Umar, the federal minister for Finance, Revenue, and Economic Affairs, identified key areas contributing to the circular debt and formed committees to identify causes and formulate suggestions for fixing the problem in the next ECC meeting, likely to be scheduled in the next week. The suggestions would then be submitted to the cabinet for its approval.

Minister Umar said all facts would be shared with the public to make decision making a transparent and inclusive exercise.

The ECC deferred discussion on the financial health of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) since it was closely tied to the circular debt problem. On the issue of gas pricing, the Committee decided to keep the price levels unchanged for the moment.

To ensure adequate supply of urea fertiliser for the upcoming sowing season, a committee headed by Prime Minister’s Advisor on Industry and Production Abdul Razak Dawood was formed to ascertain domestic production based on discussions with industry stakeholders. The committee will present its recommendations in the next ECC meeting, following which a decision will be taken regarding import of urea.

Earlier, the ECC was informed that the country would need around 600,000 tons of fertiliser in the upcoming sowing season.

During discussion on the issue, Umar expressed displeasure at the fertilizer pricing and export policy of the previous government. He said the policy was contrary to the interests of the farmers’ community. The finance minister maintained that the interests of small farmers should be considered supreme while formulating the policy.

The 12-member ECC was notified by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday. A notification issued by the Cabinet Division identified Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Abbasi, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid and PM’s advisors Razak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain as members of the committee.

In addition to the ministries represented in the committee already, six more ministers – communications, national food security, power, privatisation, statistics and water resources – were also added to it.

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