ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) has expressed concern over the non-payment of Rs75 billion, which is outstanding against the federal government.
“Due to the non-payment of around Rs75 billion by the federal government, Passco has to take loans from commercial banks at a high interest rate. Currently, we are paying Rs14 million mark-up monthly to banks, which is piling up with the passage of time,” said Passco Managing Director Tariq Masud during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research.
The committee was chaired by Senator Muzzafar Hussain Shah.
“It has become very difficult for us to run our daily activities, particularly the procurement operation,” he added. “We have been writing to the finance ministry on a weekly basis, but all we get in response is that they are making arrangements.”
Upon the request of the PASSCO head and Federal Minister for Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan, the senate standing committee also decided to write to the finance ministry for the earliest recovery of the pending payment.
Moreover, on the directives of the committee, Passco assured to establish centres for procurement of wheat in Hyderabad, Benazirabad and Tando Allayar and to procure 800,000 metric tons of wheat from Sindh against the previous year’s procurement target of 400,000 metric tons.
It also informed the panel that it had already started the procurement of wheat from Sindh and would start procurement operations in Punjab from April 15.
The committee further recommended the finance division to increase the credit limit for Zarai Taraqiyati Bank Limited (ZTBL) for enhancing agriculture loans to farmers.
The committee will visit Shankayari, Mansehra next month to examine the tea crop and its potential.
“Due to low support price of cotton, farmers do not invest on the inputs and it is one of the reasons why production last year dropped by 35%,” said Cotton commissioner Khalid Abdullah.
The Federal Minister for Food Security and Research Sikander Hayat Khan Bosan said that a new technology ‘GMO Insect’ was being used in the United States to control TBW larva in the cotton crop and representative of the concerned company had already given a briefing to the ministry officials in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2016.
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