NA Committee on Agriculture resolves Mango Export Issues

NA Committee on Agriculture resolves Mango Export Issues

On the intervention of the Speaker National Assembly and the Special Committee on Agricultural Products various issues faced by Mango exporters and farmers have been resolved. The Iran Border will remain open for entire week and extended time to export mango; PIA Freight Charges for mango export drastically reduced and Provincial Agricultural Departments Convened to devise mechanism for subsidy disbursement. This was decided in a meeting of the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products presided by the Speaker National Assembly today at Parliament House.

The Committee in its previous meeting recommended that the Ministry of Interior should take appropriate and urgent trade-facilitative measures for opening and operation of Taftan border throughout the week during the mango season with extended timings to facilitate mango exports to Iran. The Speaker National Assembly also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to take cognizance of the matter and direct the concerned ministries to facilitate the mango exporters. The Committee was informed that on the interventions of the Speaker National Assembly, the Prime Minister tasked the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives to consult all the concerned and resolve the issues within two days. The Ministry of Interior assured that the decision pertaining to Taftan border opening throughout the week will be immediately notified. Asad Qaiser added that that mango was a perishable commodity and procedural delays or logistical hurdles cost million to national exchequer. He added that no delay in border opening and trade facilitation will not be tolerated.

The Committee in the last meeting urged CEO PIA to reduce the freight charges for mango export to facilitate the farmers and exporters. He was also urged to meet the exporters associations and farmers and accordingly reduce the rates. The CEO PIA Mr. Arshad Malik met all the stakeholders and informed the Committee that the national airline has decided to drastically reduce the freight charges for mango export. He informed the committee that the revised freight charges are less than $2.5 per 500 kg for UK, Europe and $1 for other export destinations. He stated that the revised rates far lower than then other airlines and express hope that the exporters also support PIA through maximum. The Speaker National Assembly and the members of the committee appreciated the PIA decision to reduce the freight charges and urged the exporters association to ensure that they also support PIA by lifting their cargo through the national airline only.

On the matter of fertilizer subsidy, the Ministry of National Food Security apprised the Committee that the disbursement of subsidy on fertilizer was contingent upon a mutually agreed mechanism with the provinces. The Speaker National Assembly convened a comprehensive meeting with the provincial agricultural departments on Tuesday next week to timely devise a mechanism for transparent disbursement of subsidy to the farmers and to ensure that the subsidy reaches the farmers in letter and spirit. The members of the committee and farmers representative highlighted that the scratched card mechanism for disbursement of subsidy was not acceptable to the farmers and there was the need to find workable model.

On relief for farmers in electricity tariff, the Power Division informed the Committee that the current notified rate for agricultural consumers at Rs. 5.35 cost around Rs.29 billion which was being managed through cross subsidy on other consumers. For this to continue beyond this year, then a subsidy of Rs.29 billion is to be budgeted for the purpose. The Committee recommended that the Ministry of National Food Security should move a summary demanding subsidy on electricity tariff for agricultural consumers. The Speaker urged the Minister for National Food Security and Research to prepare a proposal for solarisation of agricultural tube wells on the model of Khyber PakhtunKhwa on cost-sharing basis. The members of the committee endorsed the proposal and stated that solarization of the tube wells was a long term and permanent solution to reduce farmers electricity cost. It was also recommended that the Power Division should continue to maintain average tariff at Rs. 3.5 per unit for at least next 6 months to provide cushion time for switching to solar powered tube wells.

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