The meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was held under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Prime Minister’s Office today.
The Finance Secretary presented a review of the key economic indicators. The ECC was informed that there are positive trend in the key economic indicators. The large scale manufacturing sector has witnessed a growth of 6.8% as compared to 2.3% of corresponding period of the last fiscal year. Fertilizer sector has shown a growth of 28.5%, food beverages 18%, paper and board 17%, electronic 12% and leather products 9.61%.
The ECC was informed that year-on-year inflation rate based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), Whole Price Index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI) for the month of January 2014 remained at 7.9%, 8.1% and 7.7% respectively. He informed ECC that the reported stock of wheat as on February 2014 is 2.7 million tons showing sufficient quantity of local wheat is available for daily releases to mills. The total reported stock of sugar stood at 2.3 million tons and the stock of various POL products average 20 days supply on February 24, 2014.
ECC was further informed that workers’ remittances have reached to $9,033 million in July 2013-January 2014 against $8,206 million during corresponding period in 2012-13 showing an increase of 10.1%.
The ECC was also informed that during July-January 2013-14, FBR tax collection stood at Rs.1,197 billion as compared to Rs.1,022 billion in the same period last year, thereby posting an increase of 17.2%. During this period inflow of Foreign Direct Investment stood at $1,116 million.
ECC was informed that on 24th February 2014 foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.6 billion. Finance Minister observed that the foreign exchange reserves are stable and improving gradually, which is a healthy sign for the economy. He said that, by the Grace of God, we would be able to achieve a target of foreign exchange reserves in double figures by the end of March this year. He said that in his last meeting with IMF, they also observed that GDP growth rate is getting better even more than their expected target. He said that with the significant increase in FBR collection, he expects that the provinces would get Rs.219 billion more than the last year. He hoped that the provinces would be able to invest more in agriculture sector. He also directed the Secretary, Ministry of Food Security to expedite National Agriculture Policy so that Pakistan would be able to utilize huge potential in this sector.
The ECC also approved summary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for resumption of POL supplies at six Non-Internal Freight Equalization Mechanism (IFEM) Oil Depots subject to the following:
i) Government of Pakistan will not take any financial impact.
ii) OGRA will put in place an appropriate mechanism to ensure the prevention of dumping and misuse of IFEM.
The location of oil depots where POL supplies will be resumed include Daulatpur, Khuzdar, Sangi, Habibabad, Kundian and Serai Naurang. It may be mentioned that due to reduced availability of gas to CNG stations and use of MOGAS in generators, the demand of POL products has increased up to 21% during the last two years necessitating for the opening of abundant depots to overcome the shortage. By opening of the above depots, 26000MT storage capacity will be available in the system. OGRA will monitor the movement of products as per their rules/policies.
The ECC also extended temporary suspension on import of gold under SRO 760 till 20th March, 2014. The Finance Minister directed Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, FBR and SBP to hold a meeting with all the stakeholders and bring proposals and recommendations to ensure export of gold jewelry to the extent of the gold imported for value addition.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Industries and Production, Mr. Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi, Minister for National Food Security, Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Secretaries of the concerned ministries and senior officials of the government.