ECC sets 8 million tonne wheat procurement target

* Extends the ban on the import of gold up to March 31
ECC sets 8 million tonne wheat  procurement target

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Tuesday set eight million tonnes procurement target for the wheat crop 2013-14. 
However, there would be no increase in the Wheat Support Price for the wheat crop 2013-14, and the grain would be procured from farmers on the existing wheat support price applicable across the country, official sources informed. The Wheat Support Price was raised to Rs 1,050 per 40 kg in March 2012, however with the increase in the production cost, the farming community was demanding an increase to Rs 1,250 per 40 kilogrammes. 
It was decided some three months back that this issue would be examined at the time of the procurement of wheat crop 2013-14, however, the ECC did not touch this issue at all, the sources added. The wheat procurement targets assigned and approved for the provinces and state enterprise PASSCO are: Punjab 4.5 million tonnes, Sindh 1.3 million tonnes, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.45 million tonnes, Balochistan 0.15 million tonnes, PASSCO 1.6 million tonnes. This adds up to a total of eight million tonnes. 
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar at the Prime Minister’s Office. In his opening remarks Dar said that after coming into power the government, in line with its manifesto, introduced several structural reforms in the economic sector to overcome the challenges it confronted. He said that today all economic indicators are on the positive trend. “Growth is moving up, inflation is going down, foreign exchange reserves are growing, value of rupee is appreciating and the stock market is moving up,” he observed while adding that the economic scenario of the country is moving in the right direction and we will be able to contribute in prosperity of our people.  
The ECC also decided to extend the ban on the import of gold up to March 31. Dar directed the Ministry of Commerce to re-examine the issue holistically for submission of the matter to the ECC in the next meeting. He also directed the Commerce Ministry to lift restrictions on the export of gemstones. The ECC also reviewed the performance of large-scale manufacturing (LSM) sector. The ECC was informed by the Ministry of Industries that with the induction of the present government, the performance of LSM has improved to a great extent. He said that the LSM growth stood at 6.8% in July-December 2013-14 as compared to 2.3% in the same period last year. The ECC was informed that there is 78% increase in sugar production and 28% increase in fertiliser sector.
The finance minister observed that the main reason for increase in production is due to reduction in electricity load-shedding and enhanced supply of natural gas to the industry. He said that the growth reflects renewed confidence of business community/industrialists on the economic policies of the government. Finance Minister directed the officials of the Ministries of Commerce and Industries to ensure shipment of export quota of sugar up to 500,000 metric tonnes. He said that both the Ministries and State Bank of Pakistan should reconcile their data on sugar export. He also directed the Commerce Ministry to submit a comprehensive policy on sugar. Finance Minister further directed the officials of the Ministry of Industries to present their recommendations and concrete measures before the next ECC meeting, which would achieve growth targets in LSM sector.

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