ISLAMABAD - The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) signed an agreement with the Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) on Wednesday for the supply of approximately 200,000 tonnes of urea fertilizer to Pakistan.

This urea will be supplied under a $100 million credit facility provided to Pakistan by the Saudi Fund for Development, and shipments under this agreement will start arriving in Pakistan within this month, TCP said in a statement.

"The urgent procurement reflects government's keenness to ensure timely and widespread availability of urea to growers in the country," the statement said.

APP adds: The government has taken action against as many as 200 fertilizer distributing agencies that were involved in malpratices.

"The National Fertilizer Corporation's vigilance committee has taken action against 200 agencies on the complaints of farmers, who accused that these agencies were involved in malpractice in distribution of fertilizers," Muhammad Basharat Raja, Advisor to Prime Minister on Industries said.

He warned that the government will not tolerate any malpractice in the distribution of urea fertilizer to the farmers and strict action will be taken against those elements involved in such practices. He said that the federal govt was determined to facilitate farmers and ensure timely and adequate fertilizer for better crop output, however added that the provincial govts would have to come forward to monitor the price mechanism.

He urged the provincial governments to also take strict action against the hoarders and profiteers of urea distributors and avoid politicizing the issue.

He said that the government has taken adequate measures to ensure smooth supply of the fertilizer to farmers, adding that at present there was no shortage of the commodity in the country.

He said that arrangements for importing about 1.2 million of urea would be finalized by January 28 and expressed the hope that there would be no shortage of the fertilizer during both Rabi and Kharif seasons.

Raja said that there was a total demand and requirement of 6.5 million tons of urea for both Rabi and Kharif crops and if the local industry produces the commodity to its optimum level and capacity there will be no need of import of urea in the country." He said that due to shortage of gas to the fertilizer companies the country witness a shortfall of 1.2 million tons of year and the government has imported the required quantity of urea to meet the requirement of the country for Rabi and Kharif crops. He added that government wanted to produce urea locally to save the huge foreign exchange for the benefit of the country.

The Advisor to PM on Industries said that wheat crop requires the essential input of urea in the month of January and the govt would ensure the smooth supply of the commodity to the farmers well in time. He said govt is providing urea at Rs 1300 per bag and in open market it prices varies up to Rs 1500.

Replying to a question, he said that National Fertilizer Corporation (NFC), Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan (USC), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), National Productivity Organization (NPO) and Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Center PITAC are working under the supervision of the Ministry of Industries.

He said that all these organizations have been directed to come up with new vision and plans in order to improve the efficiency and workings of the organizations and for the benefit of the country.

He informed that government has evacuated 300 kanals of encroached government land in the Export Processing Zone area to be utilized for the productive purposes.

Talking about the Industrial Policy, he said that 99.9 percent work on the new Industrial policy has been completed and it will be presented to Minister for Industries for his consent and then to the Prime Minister for final approval.