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ISLAMABAD: Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production, Thursday, while expressing grave concern over the skyrocketing prices of fertilisers, especially DAP, have asked the government to provide direct subsidy to the farmers.

The standing committee, which met here under the chairmanship of Sajjid Hussain Turi, unanimously, recommended the government instead of providing indirect subsidy to the farmers, it should be provided directly especially DAP fertiliser. The committee further recommended that a viable price control mechanism should also be defined to facilitate the farmers. The committee also recommended that subsidy may be provided on targeted basis by selection of crops.

The committee discussed the issues being faced by the farmers due to shortage of Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser and increase in prices. The panel expressed its grave concerns over the increase of price and shortage of DAP fertiliser.

The Committee was briefed about the subsidy and monitoring procedure. The members were of the opinion that subsidy on fertilizer (DAP) should be negotiated with importers, instead of retailers or shopkeepers. The committee was informed that a meeting was held today, headed by the prime minister to address these issues.

The members said that agricultural input costs have been significantly increased over the past three years. In 2018, urea fertiliser was available at Rs1,100 per bag, which now has crossed Rs3,000 mark, the DAP fertiliser was available at Rs2,800 per bag, which now in some parts of the country has reached Rs9,000 per bag, and diesel was available at Rs78 per litre, which now has crossed Rs140 per litre mark.

The committee noted that input cost including seeds, fertilisers, and fuel witnessed manifold increases and make cost of production higher as compared to the previous period. The committee members said that due to increase in input cost, per acre costs of all the crops have also increased such as wheat cultivation costing is above Rs62,000.

They asked the government either to increase minimum support price to compensate local farmers or bring down the inputs costs by providing direct subsidies. The committee discussed the Export Processing Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Amjad Ali Khan, mover of the bill explained the salient features of the bill. The secretary Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the procedure for making the rules by the federal government. The Ministry of Industries and Production gave a presentation, wherein, they have stated that the EPZA has forwarded a copy of the proposed amendment bill to legal counsel for views/comments.

Who have advised that the amendment bill-2019, as proposed by the MNAs (private members bill) in the National Assembly may not serve any purpose and may to the contrary and can create legal ambiguity?

After detailed discussion, the committee decided that the minister and the secretary Law and Justice may be invited to the next meeting. The Committee also discussed the matters pertaining to the Utility Stores Corporation regarding it functions and problems being faced by the USC management due to complicated process of the rules of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) for procurement of essential items.

The Committee recommended that the Utility Stores may be given a similar tax emption, which was enjoying by the CSD shops in cantonments premises. The Committee deferred the calling attention notice regarding increase in the prices of food essential by the utility.

The committee deferred the starred question regarding all laws and rules pertaining to the Ministry of Industries and Production and its attached departments under Rules of Business, 1973.

The committee deferred the matter regarding the booking of MG Vehicles, which according to committee members had mislead customers by saying that it has a plant in Pakistan. “The company is wrongfully advertising about assembling vehicles in the country.”

The committee was informed that the company importing MG vehicles was different from the one registered with the government. According to committee members, the MG was charging a premium of over Rs0.9 million from customers.

In June 2021 the committee, while showing serious reservation over the auto firm’s actions, has asked the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take notice of the situation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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