Pakistan Agriculture News

After long delay, ministry starts releasing fertilizer subsidy

LAHORE: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research, listening to consistent demands, has started releasing fertiliser subsidy, which had been outstanding since last year, with payment of Rs2 billion to fertiliser companies against dues of Rs20 billion.

Earlier, the government had pledged that it would release 80% of subsidy claims at a swift pace by July 2017 whereas the remaining 20% will be paid by October after third-party verification.

However, according to fertiliser manufacturers, funds are being released at a much slower pace and only Rs2 billion, which constituted just 10% of the dues, has been paid so far. Urea producers insisted that the long delay had caused financial headache for them and the government must respond urgently to woes of the industry, which contributes heavily to the national exchequer and helps ensure higher crop productivity.

However, they cautioned that if the matter was not resolved soon, most of the fertiliser companies would not be able to continue to facilitate the government’s subsidy programme.

A major reason for the delay is the arduous subsidy claim verification process. Though the Prime Minister’s Office had given clear directives, the process had yet to be simplified by relying primarily on sales tax returns, the manufacturers said.

The involvement and resistance from provincial governments further complicated the matter, they said.

However, the fertiliser companies aired hope that the newly appointed secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research may soon be able to streamline subsidy payment. The secretary has recently assured the stakeholders that Rs9 billion of subsidy claims will be released immediately.

Source Express Tribune