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Date : 09-Jan-2015
Subject : Growers reject duty-free import of 137 Indian items

Growers organisations have demanded the government to cancel March 2012 notification allowing duty free import of 137 items from India that according to them caused import of vegetables and other commodities worth Rs 25 billion during 2013-14.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Wednesday, growers’ leaders lamented that Pakistan was importing thousands of tons of duty free vegetables from India on daily basis despite its aggression on geographical boundaries.

Kisan Board Pakistan (KBP) Senior Vice President Sarfraz Ahmad Khan addressed the press conference along with Basmati Growers Association (BGA) Chairman Hamid Malhi, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) Chief Khalid Mehmood Khokhar, Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) Directors Abbad-ur-Rehman and Zafar Iqbal Khokhar, Punjab Water Council (PWC) founding convener Farooq Bajwa, Sindh Taas Water Council Salman Khan and Aiwan-e-Zaraat Vice President Ch Muhammad Abdullah.

“Indian growers are already getting heavy subsidy of Rs 100 billion per annum on producing agricultural commodities. Duty free import is breaking the backbone of Pakistani farmers who are bearing the brunt of heavy input cost. This duty free import of vegetables and other commodities has destroyed 70 per cent of tunnel farming only in Punjab”, the growers’ leader claimed. They said that MFN status to India was delayed but later Ministry of Trade issued a notification in March 2012 allowing 137 items duty free from India including 40 agricultural items. They said that India was gifting Pakistan dead bodies of innocent citizen through cross border firing but the government was giving boost to economy of an enemy through duty free import and depriving own farmers from their hard earned labour. They alleged that Indian vegetables were being imported without any laboratory tests and those were poisoned and virus infected causing a threat to human health. They said that India was also giving huge subsidy of Rs 100
billion to its growers while Pakistanis were getting expensive inputs and 17 per cent GST on products. They claimed that 454,465 tons of vegetables and other commodities were imported from India during the year 2013-14. They drew attention of the government towards import of Palm Oil which according to them was not fit for human consumption. They said that it was causing heavy loss to cotton growers as cotton-seed oil was being mixed in imported palm oil to bring down its temperature. They claimed that it was causing Rs 100 billion loss per annum to Pakistani growers. They claimed that growers also suffered a collective loss of Rs 300 billion this year because of flood damages to rice and cotton fields. They demanded the government to cancel the March 2012 notification or impose taxes on agricultural commodities being imported to Pakistan. They said that GST on agricultural inputs should be withdrawn to ensure provision of commodities to the consumers on lower rates. They warned that if these demands were notmet they would stage a joint demonstration on February 06, 2015.

Source:nation.com


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