Govt allocates Rs 27.96 bln subsidy on fertilizer: Senate told

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ISLAMABAD, March 3 (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan Friday told the Senate that the government allocated Rs 27.96 billion in current budget for subsidy on fertilizer.
During question hour in the House, the minister said the government was providing cash subsidy to farmers on fertilizers in order to bolster agriculture growth.
He said the subsidy was allocated for the entire subsidy scheme, including Rs 17.16 billion for Urea and Rs 10.80 billion for DAP fertilizer on the basis of equal sharing of federal and provincial governments.
He said despite the exhaustion of these funds, the scheme was continuing on the direction of Prime Minister, Muhammed Nawaz Sharif.
Sikandar Bosan said the government had reduced sales tax to seven percent from 17 percent on imported machinery and equipment for agriculture sector.
The minister said customs duty on import of agriculture related machinery had also been reduced from five percent to two percent to promote use of machinery in agriculture sector.
He said the ministry was mainly responsible for policy formulation, economic coordination and planning for food security in the country.
The main task also included procurement of food grains, fertilizer import and price stabilization of agriculture produce, international liaison, and economic studies for framing agricultural policies.
Sikandar Bosan said the government was taking many steps to ensure the self sufficiency in the country included more productive varieties, development of hybrids, disease resistant varieties, drought resistant varieties, climate change adoptability, Kissan Package, 2015 and fertilizer subsidy schemes 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Resultantly, the minister said that there was surplus of all major food items like wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize, etc.
He said that Minister for Finance in the Budget 2016-17 had announced fertilizer cash subsidy of Rs 300 per bag on Di- Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and Rs 156 per bag on Urea fertilizer.
The mechanism for the disbursement of fertilizer subsidy scheme had been made on the physical verification of the provincial governments and sales tax returns verified by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), he added.
The minister said so far Punjab had provided the physical verification, whereas other provincial governments had been requested for providing the same for processing of the remaining subsidy claims.
Bosan said that 4,799 persons had been working in BPS-1 to 22 in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, its attached departments, subordinate offices and autonomous.
He said that 1,265 posts were lying vacant in the Ministry and its departments, offices, corporations and autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies.