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ECC approves sugar export, wheat procurement, petroleum testing

ISLAMABAD: Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) on Tuesday approved the further export of 0.2 million metric tons (MMT) of sugar without any subsidy.

The committee chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar considered the proposal by Ministry of Commerce, said the export of sugar would be made within sixty days after approval by State Bank of Pakistan or by May 31 whichever is earlier.

It was further decided that only those mills will be allowed to export which have cleared outstanding dues to farmers relating to last season and have crushed sugarcane at optimum capacity.

In December 2012, the ECC had allowed export of 0.225 MMT sugar till March 31, unless the inter-ministerial committee constituted by the prime minister, recommended to stop further export if domestic sugar prices were negatively impacted.

Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) had requested to extend the export period to May 31, and sought increase in export quantity. The requests were referred to Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) which gave recommendations now approved by the ECC.

The committee reiterated to maintain a close watch on domestic sugar prices, and would suspend exports if it adversely impacted domestic prices.

Salary of PSM paid, tax for non-filers extended

ECC approved disbursement of one month salary for December 2016 amounting to Rs.380 million for employees of Pakistan Steel Mills Karachi.

The committee considered proposal by Revenue Division and approved to extend the applicable period of reduced rate of withholding tax of 0.4% for non-filers up to June 30.

Procurement of 7.05 million tons wheat

ECC approved the procurement of 7.05 million tons of wheat during the current season at a cost of Rs 224.86. This would help augment wheat stocks during the lean period and fulfill requirement in deficit areas.

Sample testing of petroleum products

Furtermore, the committee approved changes in procedure for sampling and testing of imported petroleum products to conform with specifications approved by the by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.

This would make it mandatory to test petroleum products by Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) laboratory prior to unloading, and sampling for quality analysis would also be carried out by HDIP.

In case the sample test by HDIP fails, then re-sampling would be made by a third party surveyor in the presence of concerned stakeholders including HDIP to resolve disputes.

The fresh sample would be tested in the presence of representatives of the importer and HDIP by another independent laboratory approved by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). The test results of fresh sample would be final and binding.

OGRA will also carry out random sampling from vessels carrying imported petroleum products. This will be tested through any approved laboratories for effective monitoring, quality assurance and greater transparency.

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