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Pakistan to spend $150m more on COVID vaccines

Goal to immunise 85m people

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Posted: Aug 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP

The government has approved a grant for Rs24,555 million or $150 million to the National Disaster Management Authority to buy coronavirus vaccines and pay for their transportation and handling charges in order to meet the target of immunising the population of 85 million people by the end of year 2021.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin presided over a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet Wednesday that made this decision.

Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, the federal secretaries, State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir, SECP Chairman Aamir Khan and other officers were at the meeting. They also decided:

Locust-fighting drones from China can be imported tax-free: govt

Drones from China to control locusts can be imported tax free, the Pakistan government decided Wednesday through its Economic Coordination Committee.

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research had asked for this relief to be granted to import 12 drones donated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China. Last year, Pakistan’s cotton crop was badly affected by locust attacks. After a particularly bad one in Rajanpur, drones were considered as a solution for the first time in Pakistan.

The then Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said that the government was fully prepared to eradicate locusts. Later on, in the annul budget, one billion rupees was allocated for locust eradication and food security projects.

Decision on sugar imports

The ECC granted a request from the Ministry of Industries and Production to import 200,000 MT of sugar to maintain strategic reserves. The secretary briefed the committee on previous tenders floated for the purchase of sugar in the international market. The previous tenders were cancelled as prices were volatile because of the pandemic. Rising costs of transportation and petrol prices have significantly raised international prices for food commodities.

Finance Minister Tarin said that a sub-committee should work out way s to place tenders at the right time on the international market so Pakistan can get the best prices.

The ECC approved the immediate import of 200,000 MT of sugar and said that arrangements should be made for the remaining 300,000 MT so there is a smooth supply of sugar before the next harvest. The committee also said that 400,000 MT of wheat could be imported.

More funding for child vaccinations

The Ministry of National Health Services will receive a grant of Rs2.3 billion for the Expanded Programme on Immunization for financial year 2021-22 as the EPI is a high priority for the government. It aims to immunize more than seven million children under the age of one year against ten vaccine preventable diseases.

Pakistan to send aid to Syria

The committee approved a request for a grant from the National Disaster Management Authority which wants to send humanitarian assistance to Syria in form of food. The ECC allowed NDMA to procure 200 tons each of rice and flour worth Rs44.24 million through MOFA (Pakistan Mission in Syria).

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Economic Coordination Committee, locust attack, coronavirus vaccines, aid to syria

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