It is heartening to note that the government has started reimbursing the subsidy on fertilizers it promised with farmers. So far the government has already paid Rs. 13.163 billion to the fertilizer producers and importers against their subsidy claims. These companies have already contributed Rs.21.16 billion to this subsidy programme by selling their products ‘below-cost’ – as per the subsidized retail prices fixed by the government.
Pakistan’s fertilizer manufacturers and economic experts suggest that the government must ensure that all matters relating to the farmers’ benefits and public-interest must be addressed in time, on a priority basis, so that the concerned communities can derive maximum social and economic advantages from such initiatives. The fertilizer industry of Pakistan is already playing a pivotal role in economic growth by making large-scale investment, promoting modern farming and encouraging new technology for higher crop-yields. Moreover, these robust enterprises are also paying large amounts in taxes and GIDC while extending financial-support to the subsidy programme.
The government should also reciprocate this industry’s contributions, by granting special support through tax-rebates and more regular supply of gas and electricity at lower prices. If such a valuable support is promised in the upcoming budget, the fertilizer companies will continue to produce cheap and abundant fertilizers locally to meet the country’s needs. This way, the government will not need to give any subsidy for the fertilizer sector.
It is thus advised that the government should give special incentives and devise concessional policies for the fertilizer sector and other essential industries. Together, the government and the private sector can avert the looming crisis of food-security and ensure economic stability in the country. This should be the government’s top-priority in agenda for the upcoming national budget.