THE Sindh government is said to have given its verbal consent to the federal government for sharing the cost of the subsidy on DAP fertiliser for its farmers under the prime minister’s kissan package.
A written and formal consent is yet to be sent to the centre after the approval of a summary by the chief minister, says a finance department source.
The province appears to be shaking off its initial reluctance to share the cost of the subsidy following a recent meeting between federal food security minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan and Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Bosan is understood have persuaded Shah to finance the portion of the kissan package for Sindh’s growers.
The Sindh government was reluctant to do so as the federal government had announced the package on the eve of the local bodies polls, claimed an officer. And the province still appears to be undecided about cash disbursements to small paddy and cotton growers.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government needs around 7.326m DAP bags from the federal government, for which the province is expected to share around Rs1.831bn, or 50pc of the nearly Rs4bn overall subsidy with the central government. The chief minister has approved an amount of around Rs2bn for the Rs500 per bag subsidy on DAP fertiliser for growers in the province.
A senior Sindh finance department official claims that the cost will either be deducted at source from the province’s share of revenues by the federal government, or it will be paid by the provincial government.
For cash disbursement of Rs5,000 to small paddy and cotton growers, the Sindh Board of Revenue is reportedly compiling data from all the 29 districts of the provincial cabinet to take a decision. A BoR officer says the cash will be disbursed to paddy and cotton growers with landholding of up to 12.5 acres.
Paddy growers suffered badly on account of low commodity prices, while the cotton crop was damaged by rains and pests.
“We have communicated the total number of growers owning up to 12.5 acres of land to the revenue department. When we are asked to submit the list, we will forward it too,” says Larkana Division Commissioner Akbar Leghari. Larkana is known for rice production in Sindh.
“There is no rocket science in collecting the number of growers. On the one hand, the BoR says the record is computerised, and on the other, it has been preparing the lists for two months. We don’t think the Sindh government is serious about disbursing cash,” says Sindh Chamber of Agriculture General Secretary Nabi Bux Sathio.
An agriculture officer points out that the monitoring process for the sale of DAP fertiliser bags is continuing, though it needs to be made more effective. Currently, the department’s field officers are checking the stock positions from the cut-off date of October 15.
The fertiliser was to be given at the subsidised rate of Rs3,200-Rs3,300 against its old price of Rs3,600-Rs3,700 from October 15. But its price had shot up to Rs4,000 recently.
“The field officers are providing the number of bags that have been sold. We need to verify the number of beneficiaries who have purchased the subsidised bags,” says an officer.
That is why the agriculture department has proposed a monitoring committee comprising farmers’ representatives and civil administration officials so that transparency is ensured. The concern is whether the subsidy is reaching deserving farmers, he says.
The farmers also discussed the kissan package with the provincial agriculture minister to know how the modalities are being worked out. They want hassle-free sale of subsidised DAP fertiliser.
Sindh Abadgar Board Vice-President Mahmood Nawaz Shah says a similar cash disbursement scheme was announced last year for rice growers but the payments were not made.
Under the agriculture package, small farmers who cannot afford to pay insurance premiums will be provided funds. Likewise, interest-free loans will be given to farmers with up to 12.5 acres of landholding to enable them to install solar-powered tube-wells or convert their existing tube-wells to solar.
“It is really encouraging that interest-free loans will be provided to farmers, as even interest-based loans are not available for them,” says Shah. He suggests that the growers be made aware of these facilities.
News source: Dawn