Whimsical decisions by ECC

THE Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) is one of the highest decision making forum in the realm of economy and therefore, it was expected to take decisions after thorough consideration and in the interest of the people of Pakistan. However, it has been observed that at times it acts like cartel or a body to safeguard interests of some particular and influential groups and segments of the society.
The decision of the ECC to increase regulatory duty on import of wheat from 40 to 60% is one such example. The Committee decided on Monday to increase the duty on the plea that it would safeguard interests of local farmers, which always means big landlords, many of whom have considerable influence in the corridors of power. For decades, we have been hearing from the Government as well as some particular lobbies that our farmers should get prices of their produce as per international trends without caring about grading and quality of the crops. In fulfilment of this objective, the prices of wheat have been jacked up many times in the past and presently the prices of the commodity in Pakistan are much higher than those in the international market. Instead of lowering them to the benefit of the common man, the prices of wheat flour are going up every now and then without any rhyme and justification and regulatory duty on import of wheat is being increased tremendously to discourage imports for the benefit of consumers. If the Government wants to pay higher to farmers then it should lower prices of inputs but there is no justification to burden the common man. The ECC did the same in the case of sugar as it colluded in raising its prices to a level where people feel they are being fleeced by influential millers but the ECC always imposes regulatory duty on its import to protect their interests. As against this, failure of the ECC to help bring down prices of poultry and pulses is reflective of lack of concern for the ordinary citizens.

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