Rafique Suleman, Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has shown serious concerns over the announcement of relief package by Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister as he believed that there is no relief for rice export sector. He said the subsidy of Rs 5,000 per acre announced by the prime minister would not help resolve the rice crisis, as this cash support for farmers is not sufficient for Basmati rice farmers.
“Support price of Rs 1600 for super basmati paddy is not realistic, as the prevailing market rates for super basmati paddy is Rs 800 and still there is a huge difference of Rs 800 which have to be considered by the government”, he added. He said that the government did not consider the suggestions which were submitted by REAP.
He urged for rollover of all bank limits without penalties should be allowed under Running Finance as well as Export Refinance where settlement should be extended from current 180 days to 360 days. In addition to this, it demanded that State Bank of Pakistan related cost of funds for all 100 percent mark-up paid/payable on ERF/FE/Running Finance should be refunded/waived without penalty and the borrowers may pay only the bank’s spread as per documented realities available
with all banks for their respective clients who are rice millers or rice exporters for the period July 2014 to September 2015. He said that in order to save the rice trade, the government should withdrawal 3.5 percent withholding tax on local purchase of rice and announced a refund of 100 percent withholding tax paid by rice exporters from the period July 2014 to June 2015, besides refund of 10 percent invoice value to all rice exporters for shipments from July 2014 to June 2015.
“One of the most important issues is the lack of Research & Development in rice as Rice Research Institutes are failed to provide any new and good quality seed of basmati rice for the last 15 to 20 years. REAP had series of meetings with NIBGE, Faisalabad, Pakistan Agricultural Research Centre (PARC) Islamabad and requested them to work towards introducing new basmati variety for the revival of rice export trade”, Rafique said.
He further said that rice exporters are facing problems in dealing with shipping companies due to the sudden increase in their charges on arrival of new rice crop. He said that TDAP has no sufficient funds to undertake the activities for marketing and promotion of Pakistani rice. Therefore government should allocate additional budget for TDAP to increase the exports from Pakistan.
“If rice exporters’ concerns are not addressed and their proposals are not considered, then rice export trade will have to see alarming crisis and rice exporters will have to struggle very hard to survive, as the circumstances are not in favour of rice exporters”, he warned.