It is heartening to note that the government has started reimbursing valuable farmer-subsidy amounts promised on fertilisers. So far the government has already paid Rs 13.163 billion to the fertiliser producers and importers, against their subsidy claims. These companies have already contributed Rs 21.16 billion to this subsidy programme by selling their products ‘below-cost’ – as per the subsidised retail prices fixed by the government.

The Fertiliser Manufacturers of Pakistan and economic experts suggest that the government must ensure all matters relating to the farmers’ benefits and public-interest must be addressed in time on priority basis; so that the concerned communities can derive maximum social and economic advantages from such initiatives.

Moreover, the government must also take more effective measures to facilitate such essential industries. It should consider reducing the taxation on fertilisers, to bring down the overall cost of farm-inputs and ensure ample Urea production to meet the country’s needs; so the food-security for the nation can be ensured. The fertiliser industry of Pakistan is already playing a pivotal role in economic growth, by making large-scale investments, promoting modern farming and encouraging new technologies, for higher crop-yields. Moreover, these robust enterprises are also paying large amounts in taxes and GIDC, while extending financial-support to the subsidy programme.

The government should also reciprocate this industry’s contributions, by granting special support through tax-rebates; and more regular supply of gas and electricity at lower prices. If such valuable support is promised in the upcoming budget, the fertiliser companies will continue to produce cheap and abundant fertilisers locally, to meet the country’s needs. This way, the government will not need to give any subsidy for the fertiliser sector while the farmers will be able to buy urea and DAP at compatible prices to ensure better productivity of their crops.

It is thus advised, that the government should give special incentives and devise concessional policies for the fertiliser sector and other essential industries. Together, the government and the private sector can avert the looming crisis of food-security, and ensure economic stability in the country. This should be the government’s top-priority in the agenda for the upcoming national budget.

MUHAMMAD SAGHEER,

Islamabad, March 21.