Finance Bill and agri-sector

As the new Finance Bill (2017-2018) was in the making and everybody was looking up with high hopes to the economic managers and government for long-term relief to the farmers; however, the budgetary speech has left much more to be desired.
The new budget (2017-2018)/Finance Bill seems quite promising for the agro-economy as compared with the time barred incentives offered and promised by the government last year. One example to quote is Kissan Package which was offered with a positive intent by the government for the plight of farming community but could not be of much help to the agri-sector due to market instability and somewhat inappropriate timing of announcement of subsidy. As a result, the intent of the government to support and strengthen the agri-sector could not materialize.
Another example is Complex Subsidy Reimbursement Mechanism which has further burdened the fertilizer sector by causing serious cash flow problems making all those repent who wanted to help the government in its initiative. Such unfulfilled promises and commitments by the government resulted in a serious trust deficit between the government and other stakeholders.
However, this year around, the Government being the policy maker seems to have adopted a visible different approach with intent of bridging the gap between all the stakeholders on ground and policy makers. Probably this is why they provided opportunity to the input providers to forward their recommendations, but it seems that the government needs to come up with certain corrective measures to ensure long term relief to agri-sector through favourable and farmer friendly agri-policies.
The need of hour is to understand that the government and other stakeholders need to sit together to carve out a way forward for improving farm economics. The contribution of last year which played an important role in uplift of the agri-economy by sharing subsidy mechanism with government must be given a clear policy confidence in new fiscal year.
ADNAN ALI MUGHAL
Islamabad

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