In the Budget 2017-18, the agricultural sector has received little or no new support schemes to provide relief to farmers. Despite the protests organised by leading farmer associations on the day that the budget was presented, their demands were largely ignored.
The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) and several other agricultural experts had suggested a waiver of the general sales tax (GST) and the gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) on fertiliser prices to support the agricultural sector. They also suggested the withdrawal of all taxes on the cost of farm-inputs, soil-nutrition and farm-machinery. But all these suggestions have been bluntly rejected by the government.
The reduction of the GST and the GIDC on both the inputs and outputs was a crucial need. These decisions must be taken urgently to ensure the economic well-being of the huge farmer community in the country.
Another suggestion, which could have truly revolutionised our agriculture sector in the long-term was that the federal government should have encouraged the technological advancement of agriculture through bio-tech enhancements, the mechanisation of farms and the optimisation of storage and faster transportation of the crops.
Over the years, the federal policies have played a vital part in starting a revival process for agriculture. But it needs consistent policies to achieve economic growth and ensure prosperity for farmers. It is believed that Pakistan’s agriculture sector has the potential to achieve tremendous growth and contribute majorly in multiplying our GDP. Hence, the government must extend increasingly effective support to this essential sector.
Ammar Muzafar, Karachi