KARACHI - The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) invited the attention of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to the difficulties faced by the rice exporters in the overdue adjustment of export refinance obtained on the basis of past performance.

UNISAME President Zulfikar Thaver said the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) rice exporters have not been able to export rice to global destinations due to decline in exports and unfavourable markets of the commodities all over the world.

He said that despite best efforts of the SME rice exporters they have not been able to meet their targets. The rice exporters , due to shortfall, have become liable to penalties due to no fault of their, but only because of slowdown in international commercial activities in commodities market.

Thaver urged SBP to waive the penalty and allow an extension of six months to the rice exporters to settle their loans. He, however, stated that rice exports has become uncompetitive due to high cost of production and for this a long drawn out policy is required and the Ministries Of Finance, Agriculture And Commerce need to sit together to chalk out a comprehensive plan to facilitate the farmers, millers and processors to ensure best prices to exporters to compete in global markets.

The high cost of finance, the high cost of farm inputs, the poor logistics and infrastructure are some of the reasons for our un-competitiveness, he added. The government needs to declare rice sector as an industry, he suggested. Rice is the second largest export sector after textiles and if given the facilities of finance, insurance and marketing and logistics support it will prove its worth he emphasized, he added.

It is also very important that research is enhanced for new seeds for better yields to make grains competitive and modern methods of cultivation, irrigation and paddy drying are adopted, he said, adding that all this needs to be done and the government has to recognise the importance of the rice sector and the challenges it faces.