LAHORE - The government should provide subsidies to paddy growers for better quality yields, as our neighbouring country provides around $30 billion in subsidies to its farming sector every year through subsidised urea and cheap electricity for tube wells.This was observed by the Rice Exporters Association Vice Chairman Sameeullah Chaudhry. He urged the government that along with subsidies it should also control line losses, electricity theft and inefficiency in recovery of dues and help stop political interference in the energy sector that has slowed the country’s economic growth by three-four per cent in the last two years“We demand uninterrupted gas supply only for two months for up to the mark processing of paddy, he reiterated. He said that acute electricity and gas shortage had not only crippled the trade and industry but also brought widespread unemployment and poverty. He said consumers of the efficient distribution companies with lowest line losses and the highest recovery ratio were being treated unfairly.The leader of rice millers and exporters demanded the government to supply them non-stop gas for at least two months during whole year as millers are presently facing gas supply suspension. “November and December are very crucial for us due to unavailability of sun to dry the paddy stock timely,” he added. He said the industry needed continuous supply of electricity to keep the units operational and to complete export orders well within the given timeframe but only because of the shortage of gas and electricity the exports were not up to the mark. He said Pakistan had already lost a number of global markets and the new power cuts would further aggravate the situation.The vice chairman said that there is no second opinion about it that effective governance is critical to economic reforms but if the political interference continues to undermine the decision-making then how one can expect an economic turnaround in the coming years.He said that rice exports from Pakistan in fiscal 2012 crossed 3.7 million tons, valued at $2.08 billion at an average price of $871 per ton for basmati rice, and $448 per ton for non-basmati rice. He said that it is an achievement that despite tough international competition with India, which reduced rates by $200 per ton, rice exports from Pakistan managed to cross 3.7 million tons.He said that rice exporters focused on new markets for Pakistani rice, working with concerned government authorities for rice exports to Iran and other countries.He said that the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has decided to prepare a road map to explore and enter new markets in a bid to boost exports. The REAP will focus on long-term planning with short-term targets to enhance Basmati exports. “Keeping in view the challenges and opportunities for rice exporters, we will focus on Vision 2020 as a first initiative for our long-term planning,” he said. The Association will soon send delegations to different countries to explore new markets for Pakistani basmati rice, Samiullah said, adding our initial target will be to increase exports to $2.5 billion, from the current $2 billion.