By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has raised the minimum support price of wheat from the previously announced Rs 1350 per 40 kg to Rs 1365 per 40 kg in view of representations from various farmers and growers’ associations as well as the Federal Cabinet and the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products.
Which had proposed a reconsideration of the minimum support price in order to compensate the farmers in areas, where the cost of wheat production had increased to Rs 1349.57 per 40 kg, said a press release issued by Ministry of Finance here. The decision to raise the minimum support price of wheat to Rs 1365 to compensate and safeguard the interests of growers and ensure food security for the masses was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held at Cabinet Block on Thursday with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. Earlier, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the ECC on the feedback received from various farmers’ associations as well as different government forums and requested for fixing the minimum support price of wheat at Rs 1400 per 40 kg.
The ECC deliberated on the proposal at length and in view of the discussion and input regarding the impact of any further increase in wheat price on food inflation and financial impact on the commodity stock operations, decided to raise the minimum support price of wheat to Rs 1365 per 40 kg.
The ECC also viewed a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on the government commodity operations which had over the years resulted in Rs 757 billion as total debt and liabilities and recommendations for reducing the debt.
The ECC also considered a proposal from the Ministry of Energy regarding tariff rationalization for power sector in the first quarter of financial year 2019-20 and an approved proposal for notifying the NEPRA, approved quarterly adjustment of 15 paisa per unit after incorporating a additional charge of 11 paisa per unit for maintaining uniform tariff on all categories of consumers except lifeline and domestic consumers. The increase coming into effect on December 1, 2019 for the next twelve-monthly billing cycle would not be applicable to nearly 20 million using up to 300 units per month, out of the total 30 million consumers while 600,000 of the remaining one million consumers would only pay 7 paisa per unit as a result of this increase. The ECC also constituted a committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and comprising Minister of National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to examine the current framework of determining power tariff.