The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet has directed for expediting the signing of a new power purchase agreement (PPA) with K-Electric for smooth payment mechanism and uninterrupted power supply to Karachi. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chaired the ECC meeting on Friday. During the meeting, the Ministry of Privatisation made a detailed presentation regarding grant of National Security Certificate (NSC) and outstanding payables and recoverable issues of K-Electric. Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar updated the forum about the principles agreed between the federal government and the K-Electric to resolve most of their long-standing issues regarding additional supply and payment procedures during the last meeting. The ECC also accorded approval for settlement of issues out of past transactions through arbitration. The federal minister for energy informed the committee that the new PPA would be signed with the K-Electric soon. The State Bank of Pakistan presented a summary regarding “refinance and credit guarantee scheme for collateral free lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs)” to facilitate SMEs which do not have collateral to get financing from banks. The proposed scheme will enable the SBP to partner with selected banks through a transparent procedure and provide collateral free financing to SMEs to promote sustainable economic growth and development in the country. The ECC approved the summary and directed the SBP to develop a comprehensive monitoring mechanism with clear-cut benchmarks for effective performance evaluation of the scheme. The secretary power placed a summary before the committee for allocation of 3.0 MMCFD gas from well NF Hor-1 (RE) to M/S PPL, for a period of two years, for sale to any third party selected through a competitive bidding process at a mutually agreed and negotiated price under a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA). The ECC considered and approved the summary with a direction that such summaries may be dealt at the level of the concerned ministry/ division after fulfilling all codal formalities. The ECC evaluated a summary by the Board of Investment (BOI) regarding exemption from minimum Turnover Tax under the Special Economic Zones Act 2012 to facilitate both SEZ developers and its enterprises. After detailed discussion, the committee directed the Law Division, FBR and BOI to firm up proposals through mutual consultation regarding implementation of the exemption from minimum turnover tax and present them before the next ECC for requisite approval. The ECC also considered and approved a summary presented by the Ministry of Commerce about condoning the delay of late shipment of vehicles imported by overseas Pakistanis subject to compliance with all other conditions of import. SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar presented a summary regarding allocation of funds for launching the 2nd phase of Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) programme. It was proposed that the number of regular Ehsaas Kafalat beneficiaries would be increased and additional beneficiaries would be added to mitigate economic hardships amid Covid-19 pandemic during the second phase of EEC. The ECC recommended the Ehsaas programme to evaluate whether the new NSER survey targets those sectors which have been adversely affected due to smart and micro lockdowns during Covid-19 and present an updated proposal before the committee. The underlying rationale is to provide targeted subsidies to support the most vulnerable segments of the society during the third wave of the pandemic. The ECC approved some technical supplementary grants including: Rs100 million for the Ministry of Defence Production for project management cell for Gwadar Shipyard; Rs3 billion in favour of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan to meet the employee-related expenses; Rs7.2 billion for the Ministry of Housing and Works for the execution of various development schemes; Rs85 million for the Ministry of Industries and Production for meeting necessary expenditure; Rs89.279 million for the Petroleum Division for the supply of gas to Allama Iqbal Industrial City (SEZ); and Rs1 billion for the Ministry of Climate Change for the PSDP Project titled “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program Phase-I”. The ECC approved some other technical supplementary grants including: Rs317 million for the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for meeting the shortfall of funds for purchase of IT equipment by NITB; Rs4.8 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works for the repair and maintenance of abandoned property house, Islamabad; Rs96.418 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works for meeting necessary expenses; Rs45 million for the Ministry of Housing and Works for National Housing Authority; and Rs7.5 billion for the Ministry of Railways for payment of pay and pensions dues of employees. Federal Ministers Asad Umar, Hammad Azhar, Syed Fakhar Imam, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Muhammad Mian Soomro and Azam Swati, Advisers to the PM Dr Ishrat Hussain, Abdul Razak Dawood and Dr Sania Nishtar, SAPMs D. Waqar Masood and Tabish Gauhar, chairmen of Board of Investment (BOI) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), federal secretaries, and other senior officers participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Dr Reza Baqir also participated through a video link.