ECC approves cash subsidy instead of wheat seeds for flood-hit farmers

BISP told to initiate cash disbursement in Sindh through its partner banks
<p>Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar presides over a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in Islamabad on January 25, 2023. PHOTO: PID</p>

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar presides over a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in Islamabad on January 25, 2023. PHOTO: PID

In a departure from its previous position, the federal government on Wednesday moved to support flood-hit farmers in the country, but by handing them cash grants instead of wheat seeds even as the rabi (winter) sowing season gets underway.

This was decided on Wednesday during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet.

The meeting was chaired by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and was attened by the federal ministers for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar, Power Khurram Dastgir Khan, Planning and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal, Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, former prime minister and MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Finance Tariq Bajwa, SAPM on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha, SAPM on Government Effectiveness Dr Jehanzeb Khan, Coordinator to PM on Commerce and Industry Rana Ihsan Afzal, federal secretaries and other senior officers attended the meeting.

During the meeting, the forum considered a summary submitted by the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Ministry on subsidy for wheat seed (rabi 2022-23).

The forum allowed provision of Rs8.39 billion through TSG in favor of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) for provision of cash subsidy to farmers of flood-affected areas instead of provision of wheat seeds as per recommendations of the committee.

The ECC also directed BISP to initiate cash disbursement through its partner banks as per the set eligibility criteria to people identified by the Sindh government.

Lease extension

Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) submitted a summary for extending the lease for Adam X-1 development and production for five years counted from February 10, 2022, to increase the domestic oil and gas production and to reduce the burden of imported energy.

The ECC granted the extension.

The Adam X-1 Development and Production lease was granted for seven years on February 10, 2015. It is spread over 19.42 square kilometers in Sanghar.

The division argued that the field still has potential for further commercial production.

The ECC considered another summary of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) and granted a one-year extension for Well Testing (EWT) at Umair SE-1 Discovery Guddu (E.L) with effect from the start of production under EWT arrangements.

It was informed that an exploration licence (EL) was granted for the Guddu Block in 1999. It is operated by the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL).

Based on the results of seismic data, the forum was informed that OGDCL has made a new discovery in the Guddu EL from the Habib Rahi Limestone and Pirkoh Limestone by drilling a well namely Umair S.E-1.

Price of medicine increased

The ECC also considered a summary by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and approved the increase in retail price of a drug as per recommendation of the Drug pricing Committee.

Pre-shipment inspection of imported wheat

The ECC approved a summary submitted by the commerce ministry and allowed the Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to continue pre-shipment inspection of imported wheat at loading ports by the six pre-approved international pre-shipment inspection agencies (PSIAs) to ensure quality of imported wheat as per approved specifications.

It was informed that a number of wheat consignments are due in the coming months.

Grants for heirs of Islamabad suicide blast victims

The ECC also approved two summaries of the Federal Interior Ministry for providing financial aid worth Rs10 million for the legal heirs of the deceased who died during the recent suicide blast in Sector I-10 Markaz, Islamabad.

Further, Rs20 million was approved for legal heirs of those who died during the recent long march of PTI.

Report on Pakistan Central Cotton Committee

The ECC discussed a summary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for a Technical Supplementary Grant of PCCC Employees and formed a committee consisting of secretaries of the food and commerce ministries to be headed by SAPM on Government Effectiveness Dr Jehanzeb Khan to evaluate the viable options for the financial sustainability of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) and to submit a report in 15 days.

Supplementary grants

The ECC also approved technical supplementary grants including Rs844.389 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works for repair and maintenance of the Supreme Court of Pakistan building, judges’ residences, rest houses and sub-offices in various cities.

A further Rs3 billion was set for Cabinet Division for development expenditure under SDGs Achievement.

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