KARACHI, Nov 22: The Sindh government received poor response to its subsidised tractors scheme as by November 20 only 450 applications were filed by the growers for 3,000 tractors to be distributed through ballot. Despite a handsome subsidy of Rs0.3 million per machine, the poor response, first time in the four year old tractor scheme, has stunned officials and analysts alike who attribute different reasons.
A senior official in the agriculture department said that market saturation might be one of the reasons as the government has distributed about 14,000 tractors during the last four years. He said that the scheme might have covered the section of growers who can afford tractors, leaving behind small growers not having resources to buy a tractor.
He hoped that by Nov 30 – the last date for filing applications on subscribed forms - there might be a last minute rush of the applications. He however estimated that the response might be as low as 50 per cent.
Sources in the Agriculture department told Dawn that as many as 17,000 applications were received for the scheme last year which witnessed distribution of 6,000 tractors. The number of tractors was increased by the Chief Minister from 4,000 to 6,000 in view of greater demand by the growers.They further said that up to Nov 20, only 6,000 forms were obtained from the designated Sindh Bank which is far less compared to the applications received last year for the scheme.
The number of successful applicants selected through a ballot last year was 5,629 of which 189 incumbents did not turn up for availing the subsidy perhaps due to lack of resources with them.
Another source said that since the job of processing applications for the tractor scheme has been given to Sindh Bank this year, speculators and ‘fake’ buyers stayed away due to the strict penalty laid down by the bank in cases where a successful applicant did not turn up with a tractor to avail the subsidy.
Under the terms and condition of the scheme, a successful bidder is required to buy a tractor first and submit its documents to the department to get Rs0.2 million subsidy on a small tractor and Rs0.3 million on a large farm tiller.