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ISLAMABAD: The country's business community has out rightly rejected the proposal of the National Price Committee (NPC) where the Finance Minister desired to ban export of the perishable commodities for the period of three months to control inflation.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) former chief on horticulture exports, Ahmad Jawad said the move could hurt the horticulture exports at the time when Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to increase exports at the optimum level and to achieve that all sector should be perform in the same equilibrium.

He said Pakistan horticulture sector contributed around $750 million before national exchequer every year excluding Halal meat, rice and other food items. Pakistan couldn't export even 50 percent of the production in onions, tomatoes and other fruits, our max export volumes of each crop not more than 10 percent.

"We are the fifth largest producer of onion produces more than two million tons but still onion farmer get minimal rates. Their only incentive is when onion export resumed in order to get better rates from the exporter".

In FY 21, Pakistan's exports of food basket stood at $4.393 billion against $4.361bn over the last year, indicating a growth of 0.74 percent. Of these, over $2bn is just alone of rice exports while the remaining were of other food items.

Ahmad Jawad also rejected the notion that decision likely made in view of seasonal variations, evolving situation in Afghanistan, and said that domestic prices might be controlled through the effective monitoring of the district administration, because every product had to be pass to consumer through three to four middlemen.

He was of the view "if government controls this, consumers may definitely get affordable rates. Secondly diesel prices should be curtailed as continuous hike in diesel prices is one of the major factors of the ongoing inflation." On the other hand Iran has lifted restrictions on the import of Pakistan's kinnow this year which would be a great kick for kinnow industry.

After nine years, Iran's market will be open for kinnow season of 2021-2022. Iran had a market for 80,000-90,000 tons of Pakistani kinnow, which was the biggest after Russia, Jawad said, adding that a ton of citrus fruit was valued at around $500. "Accordingly, our neighbouring country's market is worth around $45 million which will be additionally added in our horticulture exports."

It may recalled here Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday directed to immediately ban export of perishable food items amid fears of further spike in food inflation in Pakistan due to hike in the international markets. The Finance Minister also directed the Ministry of Commerce to expedite the process of banning export of perishable commodities in consultation with Ministry of National Food Security and Research for the next three months.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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