ISLAMABAD   -   Federal Board of Revenue will revert the advance Federal Excise Duty on tobacco from Rs 300 to Rs 10, National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products was told on Monday.

The chairman Federal Board of Revenue told the meeting that the decision has been taken on the recommendations of committee. He said the State Minister for Revenue Hamamd Azhar agreed to allocate Rs.1 billion for agriculture research in the current budget.

The members recommended that the regulatory import duty on cotton import and minimum support price for cotton should be enforced in letter and spirit to enable the farmers to receive international parity price.

Lawmaker Syed Fakhar Imam argued that given the lack of any meaningful incentives particularly the indicative price, not only has Pakistan’s cotton production and land under cultivation has shrunk but also Pakistan continues to cede space to regional competitors. He added that cotton was Pakistan’s strategic crop with immense potential for competitive advantage, however, the local growers never fetched a fair price for their toil. He added that the lack of regulatory duty on cotton import is tantamount to benefiting the Indian and central Asian farmers and exploiting the local Pakistani growers. He was seconded by Dr Fehmida Mirza who also stressed the need for support and protection to cotton farmers.

The Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood stated that the farmers should get a fair price for their crops, however, fixing the minimum support price for cotton and the restoration of regulatory import duty would have negative repercussions for the entire value chain of the textile industry. He further added that the main reasons for failure to fetch international parity price was the quality of seeds, excessive use of pesticides, contamination and artificially maintained high price of sugarcane. State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar stated that the support price mechanism caused distortions in the market and any support price would affect the entire value chain of the textile industry and may jeopardize the foreign exchange earnings. The Adviser on Commerce assured to comprehensively engage with the special committee to find viable solution for supporting the farmers after the conclusion of the budget.

President Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Khalid Khokhar urged the committee to ensure a level playing field to local growers vis-à-vis international growers. He stated that the realizing Pakistan’s true potential in agriculture was central to reign in Pakistan’s economic decline. Appreciating the endeavors of the Speaker National Assembly to uplift agriculture in Pakistan, he added that it’s the first time that parliament is thoroughly examining issues and hurdles in agricultural development. He urged the committee to abolish the FPA levied on agricultural tube wells and that the tariff for electricity to agriculture tube wells should not be increased as proposed in the current budget.