KARACHI - Rafique Suleman, Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has shown concerns over the announcement of Relief Package by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for farmers in which no relief announcement was made for Rice Export Sector. He questioned that whether the announced subsidy of Rs.5,000 per acre will solve the problems of rice crisis, as this cash support for farmers is not sufficient for Basmati rice farmers. He added that the so-called support price of Rs.1600 for Super Basmati Paddy is not realistic, as the prevailing market rates for Super Basmati Paddy is Rs.800 and still there is a huge difference of Rs.800 which have to be considered by government.

He shared some of the important suggestions, which REAP has given to the government but the same were not considered.

The suggestions included rollover of all bank limits without penalties should be allowed under Running Finance as well as Export Refinance where settlement should be extended from current 180 days to 360 days. State Bank of Pakistan related cost of funds for all 100pc markup paid/payable on ERF/ FE/ Running Finance should be refunded without penalty and the borrowers may pay only the bank’s spread as per documented realities available with all banks for their respective clients who are rice millers or rice exporters for the period July 2014 to September 2015.

He recommended that refund of 100pc Withholding Tax paid by rice exporters from the period July 2014 to June 2015 and refund of 10pc invoice value to all rice exporters for shipments from July 2014 to June 2015 and withdrawal of 3.5pc withholding tax on local purchase of rice.

One of the most important issues, he said, is the lack of Research & Development in rice as the Rice Research Institutes were failed to provide any new and good quality seed of Basmati rice since last 15 to 20 years.

He added that rice exporters were facing severe problems with shipping companies due to the sudden increase in their charges on arrival of new rice crop.

He demanded Sales Tax Refund claims of rice exporters must have been refunded on fast track basis, adding that TDAP has no sufficient funds to undertake the activities for marketing and promotion of Pakistani rice.

The REAP urged the government to allocate additional budget for TDAP to increase the exports from Pakistan.

He said that if rice exporters concerns were not addressed and their proposals were not considered, then rice export trade will have to see alarming crisis and rice exporters will have to struggle very hard to survive, as the circumstances are not in favour of rice exporters.