ECC okays creation of new anti-riot division of Frontier Constabulary
A key economic body of the federal government on Friday gave its nod to set up a anti-riot division of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary as the federal capital braced for collision with charged protesters part of Imran Khan’s long march.
The approval was given on Friday during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet. The meeting was chaired by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while others who attended it include Federal Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Industries and Production Makhdoom Minister Syed Murtaza Mehmood, Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Masood Malik, SAPM on Finance Tariq Bajwa, Federal Secretaries and senior officers attended the meeting.
New anti-riot force
With the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) embarking on yet another long march against the federal government, the central government has decided to shore up its resources.
During the ECC’s meeting, a proposal for a technical supplementary grant worth Rs333.915 million was presented.
The grant was for the ongoing financial year 2022-23 in favor of the federal interior ministry.
The grant would enable the Frontier Constabulary – which reports to the to interior ministry – to establish an anti-riot unit with 2,000 personnel.
Ministry of National Food Security and Research tabled a summary seeking permission to import around 800,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat through the Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).
The summary stated that on May 9, 2022, the government had allowed the TCP to import 3 million MT of wheat and directed to devise import modalities.
Eventually, the TCP was allowed to import 1 million MT of milling wheat through an international tendering process.
Later, public wheat stocks were re-verified by the committee which found that that the actual shortfall was around 2.6 million MT of wheat instead of 3 million MT as previously thought. Therefore, TCP was allowed to import only 800,000 MT through open tendering as well as on government-to-government basis.
The ECC allowed TCP to arrange for the import of 800,000 MT before the new crop is harvested.
Further, the ECC directed to frame and submit a logistic plan within 15 days.
Wheat distribution among provinces
The forum considered another summary from the food ministry regarding requests from the food departments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan for the additional supply of wheat from the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) stock.
The ministry said that it prepares an allocation list for recipient agencies at the start of each food year for the supply of local and imported wheat.
However, this year provinces have demanded additional stock of imported wheat from PASSCO.
Of the additional demands, the food ministry said that demands from flood-hit provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were urgent.
Moreover, the demands were subject to the approval of respective provincial cabinets.
The ECC allowed the provision of a million metric tonnes of imported wheat from PASSCO’s stock to the provinces.
Of this, Punjab would receive 500,000 MT of wheat, Sindh woould get 300,000 MT of wheat, and KP would get 200,000 MT.
However, the provinces would have to pay the full cost and incidentals of PASSCO.
Further, 40,000 MT of local and imported wheat – at a ratio of 50:50 with full cost and incidentals of PASSCO would be provided to Balochistan.
Import of additional wheat approved
The ECC also discussed in detail and approved another summary from the federal food ministry for the urgent award of the sixth International Wheat Tender-2022.
The tender opened on October 26, 2022, for 500,000 MT.
Based on the results of the sixth international tender, the ECC approved the lowest bid of $373 per metric ton for 380,000 MT on CFR bulk at Karachi.
The tender would cost the government around $141.74 million.
Suspending import of wood
During the meeting, the commerce ministry presented a summary for suspending the import of timber and wood.
The forum was told that the All Pakistan Timber Traders Association (APTTA) had requested for an extension in implementing conditions of import permit. The import of timber and wood was suspended until August 31, 2022.
However, APTTA again approached the ministry with a similar demand.
The ECC directed the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) of the food ministry to review the conditions for import of wood and timber and to bring them in conformity with the international best practices.
The forum also addressed the immediate concerns of the wood/timber industry, and approved the proposal to suspend the import of timber and wood until March 31, 2023.
Import of urea
The ECC approved a summary by the industries ministry to allow the TCP to import of 300,000 MT of urea fertilizer at the lowest bid rate of $520 per MT.
The TCP had floated an international tender for import of fertilizer on October 19, 2022. It was opened on October 26, 2022. Of the three bidders, the lowest bid was of $520 PMT for 300,000 MT.