- Fertiliser manufacturing companies getting payments in drafts to be cut after July 1 when subsidised rates are in place
The budget 2016-17 has brought huge subsidies and tax cuts for the agricultural sector, as the performance of this sector remained largely dismal during the ongoing financial year ending June 30.
Of these subsidies and tax cuts, the key step is lowering of the prices of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser which are being sold at present for Rs 1,753 and Rs 3168, respectively, but from July 1 onwards the price of urea will be cut down to Rs 1,400 a bag while a DAP bag will be available for Rs 2,500.
Nevertheless, Pakistan Today has come to know of an evil nexus between fertiliser manufacturing companies and fertiliser dealers. The fertiliser companies and dealers are colluding in a way that will greatly jeopardise the prospects of farmers from getting benefits from tax cuts and subsidies on fertilisers.
According to reports, the fertiliser companies are getting payments in drafts from the dealers and assuring them that these drafts will be cut on a later date, after July 1, when the new lowered and subsidised rates will be in place.
Under this ploy, the nexus of fertiliser companies and dealers are set to deny farmers and small landowners the benefits wholly meant for them. This malpractice is currently underway all over Punjab.
Sources among fertiliser dealers on condition of anonymity told this scribe that the fertiliser companies are sending consignments directly from their warehouses to dealers’ storage, but on informal invoices while the original invoices would be dispatched later in the month of July and during this whole time, the consignments, in fertiliser companies’ paper remain in transit.”
“This practice of illegal hoarding and storage of fertiliser is not only denying farmers of the subsidy meant for them but also causing losses of billions of rupees to the national exchequer,” they added.
Despite the fact that the government announced a hefty package of Rs 341 billion back in September 2015 for uplift and development of the agriculture sector, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2015-16 the sector witnessed a negative growth of 0.19 per cent. The growth of crops also declined by 6.25 per cent.
These glaring facts demand an extraordinary vigilance on part of the government. However, the ongoing practice of hoarding fertiliser to make unlawful gains later on can’t be practiced without political support of local politicians and administration.
“There is a way to trace out the culprits. In order to detect the fraud and discrepancies on part of the fertiliser manufacturing companies and dealers, the government can check the difference between the dates of the draft and the cutting of order to the dealers by the companies. They should also be asked why the shipping trucks took so much time (at times up to a month) to reach the destination(s) since a truckload of fertiliser can reach anywhere in the country within a span of two to three days,” said an employee of a fertiliser company requesting anonymity.
“We live hand to mouth; our livelihoods have been destroyed. Last year my land didn’t yield good and I had to take loans from family and friends. The Prime Minister’s package and reduction of price in urea and DAP and the brotherhood of dealers and fertiliser companies don’t bid well for the farmers. I request the prime minister, Punjab chief minister and finance minister to take strict action in this regard and improve the life of my lot,” said Noman Matmal, a small farmer from Hafizabad.