Rising prices: ECC approves duty-free import of 100,000 tonnes of potatoes

The body approves the duty-free import of additional 100,000 metric tons of potatoes.

Shahbaz Rana July 17, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to arrest skyrocketing prices of potatoes, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Thursday extended the date for the duty-free import of potatoes till November 15, 2014, approving import of another 100,000 metric tonnes of potatoes.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research had moved the summary for extension in date for the permission for the duty-free import of potatoes.

The ECC also allowed the import of 100,000 metric tons of potatoes in addition to already approved 200,000 metric tons at zero duties.

The commodity can be imported at zero duty till November 15, 2014 when the new crop is expected.

Earlier, on April 25, 2014 ECC had allowed duty free import of potatoes in order to bring down the high prices manipulated by hoarders and middle men.

It was informed that if immediate duty free import of potatoes was not allowed, then the price of potatoes would jump.

In the retail market, potatoes are being sold in the range of Rs80 to Rs90 per kilogram while in the wholesale market the rate was Rs72 per kg. Although the potato production was less than the target but it was sufficient to meet the domestic needs, according to ministry of national food security officials. They added the hoarders were manipulating the prices.

Fiscal incentives for biomass power projects

ECC on Thursday turned down a proposal of awarding fiscal incentives for biomass based power generation projects in the Independent Power Producer mode.

The Ministry of Water and Power had moved a summary for approval of Standardised Security Agreements (Project Agreements) for biomass based power generation projects in IPP mode. The ECC was informed that the draft energy purchase agreement and draft implementation agreement for biomass base projects are on the cost plus basis.

Turning down the proposal, the body decided that there should be no place for cost plus basis purchase agreements. Instead, the up-front tariff mode approved by NEPRA should also be applied on biomass and bio gases projects as well.

The ECC further directed that no specific contract between two parties should be brought up before the ECC for consideration and only standardised draft agreements will be considered. The summary was deferred till a detailed presentation by NEPRA in this regard.

Gas supply for Tuwairqi Steel Mills

The ECC formed a committee to review the proposal of supplying natural gas as feed stock in the direct reduced iron process (DRI) to Tuwairqi Steel Mills at concessional rates. The ministry of industries and production had moved the summary for the provision of natural gas as feed stock to Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited on concessional rates.

Altuwairiqi Group of Company had signed an MOU with the government of Pakistan on 28 May, 2004 for provision of 40 MMCFD gas for use as feed stock and 30 MMCFD for use as fuel on the same industrial rates as applicable to other such industries, according to ministry of finance.

The ECC formed a committee comprising members from Finance Division, Board of Investment, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Industries to study all aspects of the above mentioned MoU and present a report to the ECC

The committee, comprised of members finance division, board of investment, ministry of petroleum, ministry of law and justice and ministry of industries, will study all aspects of the MoU and present a report to the ECC.

Dar said that agreements should be made on well thought out plans and such promises should not be made which were not implementable.

The minister also directed the concerned ministries to prepare an integrated energy plan for the next four years which could include


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