Horticulture sector seeks share in Rs180b package

Published: January 12, 2017
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KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) will ask the government to also extend benefits of the Rs180-billion incentive package to the horticulture sector, FPCCI President Zubair Tufail said on Wednesday.

“I hope that the government and the FPCCI will finalise inclusion of the horticulture sector in the package in the next few days,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We raised the issue of non-inclusion of the fruits and vegetable sector on Tuesday when the government was about to announce the package. But we later mutually decided to resolve this issue later to avoid unnecessary confusion at the eleventh hour.”

Tufail said concerns of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) were genuine and the FPCCI hoped that they would get government support soon.

Just after one day of the announcement of the package, the PFVA on Wednesday wrote a letter to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, asking him to include the sector in the Rs180-billion package.

“We can immediately raise Pakistan’s horticulture exports to $1 billion if we get support of the government,” said PFVA Chairman Abdul Malik in the letter.

It said the sector could easily increase its exports to $6 billion in the next 10 years if the government and the private sector collaborated in short-, medium- and long-term plans that the PFVA had already sent to the relevant federal ministries.

Horticulture exports amounted to $641 million in 2015-16 when Pakistan exported a record number of fruit and vegetable varieties, according to the data collected by the PFVA.

The letter said the government should provide 5% incentive on freight-on-board (FOB) value and a three-year holiday from the 1.25% tax including withholding tax (WHT) and Export Development Fund (EDF).

“The incentives we are demanding will be directly transferred to the growers. This will create massive improvement at grass-roots level,” commented former PFVA chairman Waheed Ahmed.

Horticulture exporters say the government must admit that the horticulture sector has not received due attention that it deserves.

They say this industry is well-distributed amongst various climate zones that range from the sub-zero temperature of mountains in the north to dry and humid plains of Punjab and to the coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2017.

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