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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Kissan Itehad (PKI) on Monday announced to stage a protest on February 14 against withdrawal of exemption of 17 percent general sales tax (GST) and additional three percent GST on seeds, high rates of electricity billing for tubewell, manifold increase of diesel prices, and fertiliser prices etc, after Supplementary Finance Bill 2021.

The PKI President, Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, said that farmers’ community had a series of meetings with the government, regarding the issue but ended without any positive results.

Therefore, the PKI has decided to launch a protest, “Speechless Animals and Helpless Farmers” on February 14 in Multan against the decisions and attitude of the federal government regarding withdrawal of exemption of 17 percent GST and additional three percent GST on seeds, high rates of electricity billing for tubewell, manifold increase of diesel prices and fertilizer prices etc, after Supplementary Finance Bill 2021.

He said that farming community of Pakistan felt that the decision of the government to implement demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the shape of withdrawal of exemptions of GST from basic agricultural inputs will make the farming uneconomical.

The withdrawal of exemption of GST on seeds will increase the price of traditional seeds like wheat, cotton and local rice and value-added imported and hybrid seeds of maize, rice, sunflower, vegetables and fodders, he said, adding that this unwarranted step of the government to collect revenue from agricultural inputs will further exert tremendous pressure on food import bill, which already jumped by more than 53 percent in 2020-21 and reached $ 8.35 billion.

“Instead of formulating farmer-friendly policies to motivate already stressed farmers to increase agriculture production and reduce the food import bill, the government is taking such steps to demotivate the biggest stakeholders of the country’s economy, the farmer community,” he said.

The PKI has chalked out plan to keep continuing their protest at various district headquarters in the Punjab and then move towards Islamabad at the end, he said.

He said that Pakistan is already short of food commodities like wheat, edible oil, pulses etc, and cotton – the most important for the high foreign exchange earning textile sector. Pakistan is spending billion of dollars to meet the national requirement of food commodities also importing cotton bales for the textile sector, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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