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Zero duty: ECC okays import of 100,000t potatoes

ISLAMABAD: Federal Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Thursday allowed the import of 100,000 metric tonnes (t) of potatoes on zero duty in addition to the already approved 200,000t till November 15, 2014 when the new crop was expected.
This approval came during a meeting of the ECC under the chair of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar to consider for approval and discussions if necessary on the summaries of various ministries of the federal government. The ECC approved the summary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for extension in date for the permission for the import of potatoes with zero duty only to stabilise the price of the commodity.
Earlier on April 25, 2014 ECC allowed duty free import of potatoes to bring down the high prices manipulated by hoarders and middleman. It was informed to the ECC if immediate duty free import was not allowed, than the potatoes would be selling at very high price during Ramazan. It was in this context Dar approved appropriate measures to control the prices, in coordination with the provincial governments.  
Dar said it was our obligation to stabilise the prices of essential commodities during the month of Ramazan. The ECC considered a summary presented by Ministry of Industries and Production for the provision of natural gas as feed stock in the direct reduced iron process (DRI) to Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited on concessional rates.
Al Tuwairiqi Group of Company had signed an accord with the government of Pakistan on 28 May, 2004 for provision of 40 million cubic feet per day (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.  
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 mentioned accord and present a report to the ECC. Dar said agreements should be made on well thought out plans and such promises should not be made which were not implementable. Finance Minister directed the concerned ministries to prepare an integrated energy plan for the next four years, which could include parameters for investment, power generation and distribution and transmission aspects.
The ECC considered a summary of the Ministry of Water and Power for approval of Standardised Security Agreements (Project Agreements) for biomass based power generation projects on Independent Power Producers mode. The ECC was informed the draft energy purchase agreement and draft implementation agreement for biomass base projects was on the cost plus basis. The ECC after detailed discussions decided there should be no place for cost-plus basis purchase agreements. Instead, up-front tariff mode approved by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) should also be applied on biomass and bigasse projects. The ECC directed no specific contract between two parties should be brought up before the ECC for consideration and only standardised draft agreements would be considered. The summary was deferred till a detailed presentation by NEPRA in this regard.   
Senator Pervaiz Rashid Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Ahsan Iqbal Minister for Planning and Development, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Zahid Hamid Minister for Science and Technology, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Minister for National Food Security, Abbas Khan Afridi Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Ms Anusha Rehman Khan Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom, federal secretaries and senior officials of the government attended the meeting.

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