Adviser indicates revised criteria for agriculture stimulus

ISLAMABAD: The government is open to considering any suggestion to further improve the disbursement criterion of the agriculture package of Rs50 billion in view of the input and consultation of the stakeholders, finance adviser said on Monday.

“The government is willing to extend further relief to the farmers as and when required and proposed by the ministry of national food security and research for the growth of agriculture and betterment of farmers,” Shaikh said during a meeting. “The Rs50 billion agriculture package would be targeted and every attempt would be made to ensure its beneficiaries were the farmers and crop growers for whom this relief package was intended.”

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Razak Dawood, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Chairman Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) and Foreign Minister of Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman FAP and Punjab Minister for Management and Professional Development Jahania Gardezi, and others were also present.

The adviser said the agriculture sector has the potential in a post-COVID scenario to generate employment, boost growth, alleviate poverty and enhance food security. He asked the leadership of FAP and the concerned ministries to sit together in the coming days to further fine-tune and improve the disbursement mechanism of the agriculture package and bring up any other suggestions or recommendations to further support the farming community and boost the agriculture sector.

Last month, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet approved the multi-billion rupee agriculture relief package to provide subsidy to farmers on fertilisers and pesticides, reduction in bank mark-up on agriculture loans, and sales tax subsidy on locally manufactured tractors.

Initially, the ministry of national food security and research proposed Rs56.6 billion. However, the committee asked the ministry to rationalise it as per its share in the overall Rs100 billion package announced for the small and medium enterprise sector and the agriculture sector out of the Rs1.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Shaikh said the government approved the package with a view to extending relief to the farmers community and its direct disbursement to the farmers and crop growers remains a key objective of the government.

The adviser welcomed various proposals and recommendations put forward by the delegation regarding extending direct relief to the farmers, including possible reduction of electricity tariff for tube-wells, reduction of import duty on fertilisers, reduction of mark-up and waiver of agricultural loans, deregulation of the import and export of agriculture products and livestock.

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