Sindh Bank rejects accusations: PTMA questions transparency in tractor scheme

Pakistan Tractor Manufacturers Association (PTMA) has accused the Sindh government of favouring one specific brand in its subsidised agriculture tractors scheme, according to which 1200 tractors will be given to farmers. Both the local tractor manufacturing companies – Millat Tractors Limited and Al-Ghazi Tractors Limited – wrote a letter to Secretary Agriculture Department on August 27, 2103 and copies of which were also sent to Chief Minister Sindh, Agriculture Minister and President Sindh Bank Limited. 

They made the following observations: (i) the tractor shown in advertisement clearly portrays the tractor image, colour scheme and logo of a specific company which may imply to the customers that this scheme is only for that specific brand; and (ii) the scheme may raise apprehension about the mode of execution on “first come first serve basis” rather than the transparent balloting. The selection process may also result in favouring a particular company with respect to tractor brand choice. 

The Sindh government officially did not challenge the accusations of PTMA regarding transparency in scheme. However, President Sindh Bank Limited, Bilal Sheikh, has brushed aside the accusations of PTMA, saying that the bank is not concerned with any tractor brand as the logo and colour scheme was incorporated by the bank”s advertising agency. The bank was only keen to act on behalf of the Government of Sindh (GoS) to complete the process of left-over 1200 tractors out of the previous two schemes of 3,000 and 6,000 tractors. The urgency for the release of advertisement was to clear the backlog so that the supply of tractors under a fresh subsidised scheme for 2013-14 could be initiated by the GoS. 

“You are perhaps not aware what amount of time, manpower and money, the Bank had to incur on behalf of the GoS while releasing the advertisements and the balloting of the new upcoming scheme for 2013-14 was to be outsourced to some renowned I.T. Company. We are sorry to learn from the letter that both the leading local tractor manufacturers are not aware of the application process, it might be that the companies have been processing cases through dealers which is against the essence of the scheme to provide the tractors to the growers/ farmers to save them from the intermediaries,” said Bilal Sheikh in his letter written a day after the letters written by two local tractor manufacturing companies. 

“Once any applicant is declared successful, this is totally his/her discretion/ desire to book any type of brand/model depending upon his his/her convenience and resources,” he maintained. In its letter, PTMA also expressed serious reservations regarding “unfulfilled” commitment of the previous tractors scheme. Subsidy amount for more than 1,100 units is still pending with GoS over the last three to four months despite fulfilling of commitment on the part of tractor industry. 

While commenting on reservations, the President Sindh Bank stated delay in the payment of dues to respective companies was because of Agriculture Department that had to claim the subsidy amount from the Finance Department which was received by the Bank on August 28, 2103, and all dues to local companies on account of subsidy will be paid within one week. 

He also expressed annoyance with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Millat Tractors, Irfan Aqeel, for correspondence on this issue. “We regret that despite our meeting held at the Bank”s offices when he was assured subsidy would be paid within a couple of days, this correspondence was made unnecessarily,” Sheikh added. 

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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