Change of guard: Govt gives cotton body under control of food ministry

Published: March 31, 2018


ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Division has issued a notification for handing over control of the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) from the Textile Division to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research with expectation that the change will help arrest a sharp decline in cotton production over the past four years.

Earlier, the cabinet, in a meeting held on March 6, had approved the transfer of PCCC to the Ministry of National Food Security with the directive that Rules of Business 1973 should be amended accordingly.

However, “the fate of cotton commissioner remains uncertain as the Cabinet Division has referred the matter to the Establishment Division, citing it as a posting issue,” a senior government official said.

The Establishment Division has sent a letter to the food security ministry in order to seek its comments on the posting of cotton commissioner.

During the tenure of previous Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government, the cotton commissioner was given under the control of the Textile Division from the Ministry of National Food Security apparently because of the influence of textile barons.

However, it turned out to be a clash of interest as the commissioner was forced to shield the interests of textile giants and report to the textile secretary.

Since the current Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has taken over in June 2013, the Ministry of National Food Security has been trying to wrest control of the cotton committee and commissioner from the Textile Division, believing that the two could not take independent decisions because of the influence of textile lobby.

The cabinet had constituted a committee, headed by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz, to examine the argument.

The committee was also asked to analyse the causes for virtual stagnation in cotton production over the past two decades and identify the institutional measures that could be taken to achieve a steady growth in yield and production.

The committee held a host of consultative meetings with stakeholders from both food security and textile divisions, representatives of Sindh and Punjab, the academia and industry associations.

It recommended that administrative control of the cotton committee should be handed over to the Ministry of National Food Security in a bid to strengthen public-private partnership in research activities through increased funding from the public sector and come up with more pro-cotton policies.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2018.

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