November 20, 2020: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet here at Islamabad. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, also participated in the meeting.
ECC evaluated a proposal submitted by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination and approved, in principle, the provision of technical supplementary grant of US$ 150 million for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ministry of Health briefed the ECC that this shall be the first phase of procurement and the amount of vaccine will suffice for the most vulnerable 5% of the population i.e the health workers and the population above the age of 65 years; around 10 million people would be provided a vaccine cover under the above arrangement. ECC further directed the Ministry of National Health Services to discuss the proposal with WB and other donors in coordination with Economic Affairs Division so that they could assist in providing financial facility for the procurement of the vaccine during the first phase and for the procurement of additional quantities in future as needed. The forum also directed the Ministry of NHS to draw a holistic proposal regarding the pricing and risk mitigation mechanism for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine for provision on a wider scale, in consultation with the relevant stake holders.
ECC approved the request of the Economic Affairs Division to proceed with the formal request for availing the G-20 Debt Relief for the extended period i.e January-June 2021; approval of the Federal Cabinet would be required for signing of the bilateral debt service suspension agreements.
ECC also approved two technical supplementary grants for “Initiating the Process of Retrenchment of Pakistan Steel Mills Employees (PSM)” for an amount of Rs.19.656 billion and “Prime Minister’s Special Package to Implement SKILLS FOR ALL Strategy as Catalyst for TVET Sector Development in Pakistan for Rs. 500 million. Rs. 689.3 million were also approved as budget re-appropriation for National Information Technology Board (NITB) for fulfilling its various requirements during the meeting.
ECC also approved the proposal by the Ministry of Energy/ Petroleum Division for the allocation of 2.25 MMCFD gas from Umair -1 to M/s OGDCL for sale to M/s Engro at a mutually agreed and negotiated price, under a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement subject to initiation of Field Development Plan and Development and Production Lease.
ECC was also briefed on the status of wheat import through Trade Corporation of Pakistan. Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the forum on the provision of additional 340,000 MT of Wheat, a tender was floated on 11-10-2020; the bids were opened on 18-10-2020 and lowest bid was accepted. The total quantity to be imported is now 2.248 MMT.