Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday announced Rs1,800 billion relief package for farmers for the revival of the agriculture sector and to restore the livelihoods of farmers in the flood-affected areas.
The package included the provision of free seeds, measures to reduce di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) prices and the availability of urea in the country.
It also included initiatives to run tube wells on solar energy and facility for depositing electricity bills in installments.
Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, he said that the announced package was Rs400 billion more than the previous year, saying that it was drafted keeping in mind the needs of the flood-affected areas as well as for the welfare of the farmers.
The prime minister said that the price of DAP has been reduced by Rs2,500 per bag, adding that 1.2 million bags of seeds will be distributed in the flood-hit areas.
Shehbaz said that Rs5 billion in subsidised loans will be given to landless farmers in flood-affected areas whereas Rs10 billion have been allocated for small and medium enterprises in the package.
He said that the loans of small farmers in the flood-affected areas are being waived, while the import of tractors that are less than five years old is being allowed.
The premier said that the decision was taken as the government was unable to reduce the price of tractors. He also said that 0.5 million tonnes of urea will be imported in total out of which 0.2 million has already been imported.
Shehbaz said that loans worth Rs50 billion have been allocated for the unemployed youth in the flood-affected areas, adding that the government of Pakistan will provide subsidy in terms of interest on the loans which will be worth Rs6.4 billion.
PM Shehbaz said the previous government first exported sugar and then imported it and they did the same with wheat which caused revenue losses for the country.
He said that the government will in incentivised new investors and if they import completely knocked down (CKD) tractors, the government will reduce import duty.
“I will invite Chinese investors to invest in Pakistan during my visit.”
Shehbaz said that 1.6 million tonnes of more wheat will be imported which will ensure that no shortage of wheat is in the country. “There will be no shortage of it. We have to save every dollar that is why we’re stopping private sector from importing,” he added.
Shehbaz said that there are 0.3 million tube wells in Pakistan that run on electricity. “We want to move towards solar panels for tube wells. We will provide interest-free loans to the owners and we will also assist them in getting these loans. We will give subsidy on these loans and will pay the interest cost,” he added.
He warned that if Pakistan does not increase its agricultural produce, its previous resources will be spent on importing commodities such as wheat and cotton.
“We are fixing electricity cost at Rs13 per unit for farmers. We will give as much relief to farmers as possible despite all difficulties,” he added.
He said that government expects the package would yield results in few month, adding that the package will also help increase the country’s exports.