ECC approves continuation of subsidy on five essential items through Utility Stores

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ISLAMABAD : Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet has approved continuation of subsidy on five essential items through Utility Stores Corporation till the end of current fiscal year.

The ECC, which met in Islamabad on Thursday with Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair, also approved re-allocation of over 2.3 billion rupees for procurement and IT infrastructure for automation of stock management throughout the network of Utility Stores.

It may be added that the subsidy is being given on five essential items out of funds allocated under Prime Minister s Relief Package-2020 in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECC has also constituted a four-member committee to review the margins of oil marketing companies/dealers on petroleum products.

According to details, the Petroleum Division had proposed Rs0.45 per litre hike in OMCs’ margin on MS and HSD, whereas it had sought an upward revision of Rs0.58 per litre on MS and Rs0.50 per litre on HSD for dealers.

The revision in the margins of OMCs and dealers was worked out based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – from June 2019 to October 2020 — duly published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The ECC, after due deliberation, decided that proposed rates for an increase in margins would be considered after a detailed study by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

In this regard, the forum constituted a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood to evaluate the outcome of the PIDE study and present a revised summary before ECC accordingly.

Secondly, the ministry requested the ECC to approve the reallocation of Rs2.332 billion for ERP procurement and IT infrastructure for automation of stock management throughout the USC network. ECC approved the proposal in principle, with a direction to hold further consultation with IT and finance ministries for smooth implementation.

It was also decided that the USC would present before next ECC meeting a revised proposal after working out a specific percentage range(s) of differential from market prices for subsidizing essential commodities through the Ministry of Industries & Production. The percentage range(s) would serve as a benchmark for subsidizing the essential commodities through USCs, keeping in view fluctuations in international commodity prices.

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