Special measures announced for revival of agriculture sector

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 3 (APP): Federal Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Friday announced special measures for enhancing performance of agriculture sector and income of rural population.
While presenting budget for year 2016-17 in the Parliament House, he said, due to higher inventories, declining commodity prices and unfavourable weather conditions, this sector has suffered very badly.
He said, to enhance agriculture productivity, Prime Minister
Muhammad Nawaz Sharif announced a historic package in September last for Rs
341 billion for providing less expensive fertilizer, seeds, loans and availability of water to famers.
The Minister said keeping in view difficulties faced by the agriculture sector, the government decided to take further special steps in current financial year.
Giving the details of the measures, he said tax and duty concessions announced in the last year’s budget will continue in the budget 2016-17.
“These concessions amount to Rs 15 billion and are expected to promote agriculture sector development,” he added.
Ishaq Dar said, fertilizer is a major input cost in the agriculture sector, adding, government decided to further reduce price of urea to Rs 1400 per bag from July 2016, adding, the federal and provincial government will pay the cost of subsidy which will be Rs 36 billion, in equal shares.
Similarly, the current price of DAP is Rs 2800 per bag which has been cut down to Rs 2500 per bag from July 1, 2016 while the federal and provincial governments will pay cost of subsidy which will be Rs 10 billion.
He said, the agriculture credit is being increased from Rs 336 billion to Rs 600 billion over the last three years.
For 2016-17, volume of agriculture credit target is being increased to Rs 700 billion, he added.
The Minister informed, the government through SBP has developed a framework to reduce mark up rates of ZTBL, NBP, Bank of Punjab and Punjab Cooperative by 2%.
Under credit guarantee scheme, the federal government is sharing risk of non-payment of credit by small farmers by guaranteering up to 50% of the financing by participating financial institutions.
The government is allocating Rs 1 billion in 2016-17, he added.
He said, current rate of off-peak rate of Rs 8.85 per unit for agriculture tube wells is being reduced to Rs 5.35 per unit, adding the government will bear expenses of around Rs 27 billion.
Ishaq Dar said, concession of customs duty for dairy, livestock and poultry sectors, concession of customs duty for fish farming, relief on cool chain machinery, exemption of sales tax on pesticides and exemption to Silos will also help a lot in revival of agriculture sector.