Islamabad, May 22(APP): The Speaker National Assembly Mr. Asad Qaiser presided over 2nd meeting of a series of pre-budget discussions on budget proposals for agriculture development. The Speaker highlighted that Pakistan’s economic turnaround was contingent upon revitalization of agriculture and that incentives, concessions, reduced cost of production and enhanced farmers profitability should guide the budgetary decisions. He instructed the ministries concerned to extend maximum relief to the farmers. He was chairing a meeting regarding budget proposals for agriculture development here at Parliament House, Islamabad on Wednesday.
During the meeting the matters of minimum support price for major crops, access to credit, regulatory duties on import, production and distribution of biotechnology seeds, taxation on agriculture machinery, import duties on fertilizers and pesticides, and allocation for agriculture research came under discussion. The panel was comprehensively briefed by the officials from the Ministry of Finance, Commerce and National Food Security & Research respectively.
The members recommended that the regulatory import duty on cotton import may be restored to prevent the massive import and dumping of cotton and to enable the farmers to receive international parity price. Syed Fakhar Imam argued that given the lack of any meaningful incentives particularly the indicative price, not only has Pakistan’s cotton production and land under cultivation being shrunken but also Pakistan continues to cede space to regional competitors. Advisor on Commerce Mr. Abdul Razzak Dawood submitted that the main reasons for failure to fetch international parity price was the quality of seeds, excessive use of pesticides and contamination.
Endorsing the Committee’s recommendation, the Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan remarked that revival of cotton as Pakistan’s strategic crop was not possible without an assured indicative price in line with the international parity price. Advisor on Commerce assured the Committee that he will come out with a viable plan after consultation with Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
The Panel expressed serious reservations over the hike in price of fertilizers during the last two years and the subsequent profitability of fertilizer companies. The Speaker questioned as to how Pakistani farmers would compete with the regional competitors when the input cost continue to rise unabatedly in Pakistan and the competitors continue to dole out massive subsidies to the farmers. The Members strongly recommended the need for a stringent price regulation mechanism to control the price of agricultural inputs.
The Meeting was attended by the Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, State Minister for Revenue Hamad Azher, Advisor to PM for Commerce, Industries Production & Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood, Asad Umar, Syed Fakhar Imam, Shandana Gulzar Khan, Sana Ullah Masti Khel, Malik Muhammad Ehsan Ullah Tiwana, Riaz Fatyana and Faizullah Kamoka.