ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet did not impose any ban on the export of onions and tomatoes, as it was expected to control their soaring prices, and asserted the rates would soon decrease as fresh stocks of these vegetables reached the markets.

The ECC meeting, held under the chairmanship of Federal Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, expressed concern over the inflation and price hike in the country and observed it was mainly due to increase in international fuel prices.

The top economic decision-making body of the country decided to appoint Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the transaction adviser (TA) in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project. Dar said that involving a credible financial institution as the transaction adviser would ensure greater transparency in the deal.

The ECC discussed in detail rise in the prices of onions and tomatoes in the domestic markets. The prices of these two commodities skyrocketed in the market and the government was considering a ban on their export to control their prices, but the ECC rejected the proposal.

The ECC was informed that shortage of both the vegetables was the main cause of rise in prices which would soon come down when fresh stocks of onions and tomatoes reached the markets.

The officials, representing the Ministry of Food Security, told the ECC that as per a survey conducted in the local markets during the last three days, the prices of these items were already coming down and by the end of this month they would improve further. However, Senator Ishaq Dar advised the officials of the Ministry of Food Security to bring a better and much more practical proposal to check the rising prices on a long-term basis. The ECC also directed the Ministry of Food Security to keep a watch over the prices and deferred the matter till a next meeting.

As regards energy-efficiency audit of the captive power plants, the ECC decided to form a committee under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Water and Power secretary and comprising representatives of the ministries of industries and production and petroleum and natural resources, ministry of commerce, Nepra and Ogra. The committee will propose a viable plan for the capacity building of energy-efficiency audits and transparency in the system.

The finance minister said: “We shall start the process of conducting energy-efficiency assessment from the public sector and initiate awareness campaigns for the private sector to use methods that could save energy and help steer the country out of its present energy crisis.”

The meeting noted the recommendations made by a committee constituted by the ECC under the chairmanship of the State Bank of Pakistan governor to study the process of “portfolio investment”.

The meeting also discussed a draft policy for regulation of the organisations receiving foreign contributions. It would be pertinent to mention here that the ECC at its meeting held on July 2013 constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the science and technology minister to review the regulatory framework for the NGOs working in Pakistan.

The ECC was told that a draft policy had been prepared after a meeting with all stakeholders and the matter would now be discussed by the ECC after further consultation with the Law Division within the next two weeks.

The ECC approved transfer of Engro Corporation Ltd’s investment in Engro Foods Ltd Pakistan.

Dar expressed satisfaction over the positive development that a large-scale manufacturing had increased by 12.8 percent during the month of September. This sector experienced a growth of 8.4pc during the first quarter of the financial year 2013-14, mainly because of the proactive approach of the government in liquidating the circular debt. Consequently, growth in the large-scale industrial sector experienced an increase of 6pc in June 2013, which gradually increased to 12.8pc in September because of the addition of 1,700MW to the national grid.

The meeting was informed that foreign remittances had reached $5.2 billion in the first quarter of FY 2013-14, 6.3pc more than the corresponding period last year, and the foreign direct investment had increased by 85pc in the first quarter of this financial year. “This speaks volumes about the seriousness of the PML-N government in the economic uplift of the country,” the finance minister said.