ISLAMABAD: The government has given another chance to criticise, as it has been revealed Punjab is the only province that has received funds under the Prime Minister’s Kissan Package, while other parts of the country remain deprived.
Under his hefty Kissan Package worth Rs341 billion, PM Nawaz Sharif has allocated Rs40 billion for payment of cash grants to small growers of rice and cotton that have been adversely affected by a slump in prices.
An official of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research said the government has decided to give cash assistance of Rs5,000 per acre to the farmers with 12.5 acres of land.
However, sources said the finance ministry has not transferred any subsidy to the provinces other than Punjab.
The sources said the prime minister had, on several occasions, visited different cities in Punjab and distributed the cash among small growers as per the package but this incentive is yet to reach other provinces, particularly Sindh where small growers of the two commodities are in large numbers.
The prime minister had announced the Kissan Package in mid-September to support the agricultural sector in an effort to make their commodities more competitive in regional markets.
A senior officer in the food security ministry said some farmers are directly contacting the ministry for receiving the grant, but the ministry has nothing to do with the funds because it is the finance ministry which directly deals with the issue.
“We had the role of giving our input for the preparation of the package, but now it is up to the finance ministry to distribute the funds,” the officer said.
Rafiq Suleman, a representative of the Rice Exporters Association, confirmed that he has not received a single penny under the much-publicised package.
He noted that the government seems to have some other priorities since it recently announced a subsidy of Rs7 billion on the export of sugar and also transferred the amount instantly. “This shows that the government prefers to give benefits to powerful cartels and ignore poor farmers,” he noted.
Suleman said it seems that the package was just used for marketing the PML-N government in the local government elections and nothing was implemented practically. “We condemn such government attitude towards farmers and growers,” he stated.
News source: The Express Tribune