KARACHI: The commerce ministry has prepared a proposal to include rice in the list of sectors under special incentives to promote exports and earn foreign exchange, said the ministry officials on Wednesday.
The ministry will put up the proposal before Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in the next meeting.
Rice sector fetches $2 billion per annum in foreign exchange and is the second largest export commodity. The country is net exporter of rice and produces 60 per cent more than domestic demand.
Currently, five sectors enjoy government incentives to promote exports. These export-oriented sectors are exempted from sales tax, electricity load shedding, and gas load shedding — for period between December to February — in addition to enjoying reduced electricity tariffs.
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Exporters have time and again urged the government to include rice among export-oriented sectors and the issue was also raised by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) in a recent meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile Industry and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.
REAP Chairman Safdar Hussain Mehkri also took up the issue with Finance Minister Asad Umar who agreed to include rice sector among export-oriented sectors after Mehkri highlighted that rice make ups for almost 10pc of country’s total exports.
Talking to Dawn, Mehkri said that successive governments have repeatedly asked rice producers to increase exports but were reluctant to offer incentives.
He said that rice exporters face tough competition from India and after recent devaluation of Indian rupee, the situation has worsened. He also said that rice crop yield in India is higher than in Pakistan due to cheap farm inputs.
Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2018