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ECC okays amendments to hosts of laws to spur oil exploration, production

ECC okays amendments to hosts of laws to spur oil exploration, production

ISLAMABAD – The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved amendments to a host of rules governing the regulation of upstream petroleum sector to foster ease of doing business and encourage investment in the sector.

The approval was granted in ECC meeting held in Islamabad on Wednesday with Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The approval to amend nearly 18 rules dealing with approvals, extensions, renewals, revocations and other ancillary matters covered under the Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2013, and their subsequent incorporation in relevant Rules governing the regulation of the upstream petroleum sector.

The ECC also approved incorporation of similar amendments in Pakistan Petroleum (Production) Rules 1949, Pakistan petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules 1986, Pakistan Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules 2001 and Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2009 which would be notified after formal vetting by the Law & Justice Division. After the said Rules have been repealed, a legally tenable way forward would also be worked out in consultation with the Law & Justice Division.

The ECC also took up a proposal by FBR and approved a technical supplementary grant to the tune of Rs 30 billion for the redemption of bonds issued by the “FBR Refund Settlement Company Limited” to the tune of Rs 30 billion, and payment of sales tax refunds by FBR in the form of cheques in accordance with the prescribed rules.

The meeting also discussed the proposal in detail and constituted a seven-member high-level committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production Abdul Razak Dawood to review the proposal and submit its recommendations to ECC within two weeks.

On another proposal by the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication for exemption of 8pc minimum Income Tax for National Telecommunication Corporation, the ECC constituted a body comprising Minister for Economic Affairs Division Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Chairman Board of Investment and a representative from FBR to review the proposal and present suitable recommendations to ECC.

The ECC also considered another proposal from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for extension of Government Sovereign guarantee in respect of Telephone Industry of Pakistan, for a further period of two years from 16th September 2019 to 15th September 2021 and payment of loan amounting to Rs2.150 million, inclusive of mark-up of Rs1.030 billion, for smooth process of revival plan of the TIP.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Commerce Division for declaration of the erstwhile zero-rated sectors, namely Textiles (including jute), carpets, leather, sports and surgical goods as “Export Oriented Sectors, which includes Textiles, Carpets, Leather, Sports and Surgical Goods”.