ISLAMABAD: The government has hinted at increasing fertiliser prices by Rs100 per bag following a hike in gas prices.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production Abdul Razak Dawood said the production cost of fertiliser had gone up due to a recent hike in gas prices. However, he said, final decision would be taken on Thursday, following a meeting with representatives of the fertiliser industry.
The industry had demanded an increase of Rs200 per bag in fertiliser prices due to the hike in gas prices, the adviser said, adding that the industry had not yet increased the prices.
He claimed that there was a smooth supply of fertiliser in line with demand and the government was making efforts to prevent undue hike in fertiliser prices. The government would safeguard the interest of farmers, however, subsidy could not be given following a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as it would affect the revenue collection, he added.
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Regarding the country’s trade, Dawood said there had been no change in the volume of exports and imports during 2018-19. Exports stood at $23 billion against the target of $24 billion.
There had been no increase in exports in dollars terms, he said. However, a decline of $6 billion was witnessed in the trade deficit, he said, adding that the deficit stood at $31 billion in 2018-19.
Rice exports to Qatar
In a statement, the Ministry of Commerce said Qatar had lifted the ban on rice export from Pakistan while Iran would also import 500,000 tons of paddy. It would lead to an increase in exports from Pakistan. “Pakistani is set to export rice to Qatar as the latter has advertised a tender to import 100,000 bags of the commodity,” it said.
The Ministry of Commerce said the current government had been working to boost exports of traditional and non-traditional products. Rice is the largest agro- commodity in the export basket of the country with exports of over $2 billion.
The government wants to take rice exports to $5 billion in the next five years. To achieve this target, the Ministry of Commerce said it was recapturing traditional markets as well as entering new markets. With continuous effort of the government of Pakistan, Qatar has now opened its market for Pakistani rice, the statement added. Previously, Pakistan’s rice was not being purchased by the state procurement agency of Qatar.
Dawood said rice exports to China and Indonesia were going up due to the additional market access secured by the government. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said it was encouraging that basmati rice exports had been on an upward trend, fetching $637.99 million in FY19 compared to $581.85 million in the previous year.
Previously, the private sector in Qatar continued to import rice from Pakistan, however, the Central Tendering Committee (CTC), which procures for state-supplied subsidised rice for Qatari citizens, made its tender Indian-origin specific, thereby effectively banning the import of any other origin rice including Pakistani rice into Qatar in 2011-12.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2019.