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ECC approves Rs8bn additional budget for armed forces.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Tuesday approved nearly Rs8 billion supplementary budget to meet the additional needs of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and civilian armed forces, a local media outlet reported.

The ECC approved the additional budget for the PAF and management of western borders by civil-armed forces, said the Finance Ministry officials.

It has been decided to give around Rs8 billion for various purposes and nearly half of it would go to the PAF. The remaining amount is being approved for the Pakistan Rangers, civil armed forces and to pay to banks for marketing Pakistan Banao Certificates (PBC).

The ECC approved to give minimum Rs180 million or 0.75pc of the total investment in the PBC - whichever is higher, to a consortium of banks that would market these certificates.

ECC Chairman and Finance Minister Asad Umar also directed the Ministry of Interior to analyse the defence needs of the armed forces and inform the government so that it may make required allocations.

The ECC directed a committee setup by Prime Minister Imran Khan to give its report on the needs of the armed forces. The decision to approve the additional budget for the country's armed forces has been taken a week after skirmishes between India and Pakistan.

The committee also approved the supplementary budget for capacity enhancement of the civil armed forces for management of the western borders. The government has started various projects for capacity enhancement of civil armed forces through raising of additional wings of Frontier Corps Balochistan.

The ECC approved Rs1.8 billion supplementary budget for Ministry of Interior to largely meet the needs of Pakistan Rangers and repair of security cameras.

In a surprise move, the ECC also approved to give minimum Rs180 million or 0.75pc of the total investment in the PBC to a consortium of banks that would market these certificates. The decision is contrary to the initial statement by the Ministry of Finance that had decided to keep the banks out of the PBC launch and marketing exercise.

The ECC further approved Rs769 million technical supplementary grant for construction of training centres of Fata Levis and upgrading of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore Office. There will not be additional burden on the exchequer, as the US government would provide funds for these projects.

The ECC also directed to complete all codal formalities for construction of new LNG terminal.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs had proposed to approve Jharri Creek site for setting up new terminal, and the future terminals should be built on a Build-Operate-Transfer model without involving the government guarantees.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs had decided that no new terminal will be built at the existing site of the Port Qasim Authority to avoid congestion. A technical study to identity an LNG zone was underway that would complete in six months.

The finance minister also directed the Petroleum Division to start discussions with the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) for determination of new gas prices with effect from July this year.

The ECC approved allocation of 9MMCFD gas from Fazl X-I filed to M/s SSGCL for a period of ten years for provision to Hala Joint Venture.

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Publication:Pakistan Today (Lahore, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 5, 2019
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