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LAHORE: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has sought remissions, concessions and relief for the farmers and incentivising the value addition in the agriculture sector in the federal budget 2017-18.

The ministry has also desired reduction in the cost of production by removing the general sales tax on all fertilizer products.

“The GST (5 per cent) on imported sunflower and canola hybrid seeds not produced locally for sowing should be removed in the budget and 3 per cent import/custom duty on all imported hybrid seeds should also be lifted. Besides this reduction in tariff on agricultural tubewells and intervention price for essential food grains, especially the cotton, rice and maiz, an incentive for the promotion of pulses must be announced in the budget,” reads a proposal submitted by the Federal Minister for the MNFSR Sikandar Bosan to the Ministry of Finance.

The proposal seeks concession on supply of imported agricultural machinery and equipment given under serial No 1, 2 and 3 of 5th schedule of Customs Act may continue during financial year 2017-18. There should be no GST on imported new combined harvester and planters. Similarly, 7 per cent sales tax on the supply of locally manufactured agriculture machinery/equipment be withdrawn and announced in the budget.

“The sales tax on the locally manufactured tractors should be reduced from 5 to 2 per cent. Supply of imported tractors may be allowed on zero per cent duties and taxes (PCT Code 8701-9020 of part V of 5th schedule of Customs Act,” it demands.

The proposal wants incentivising the construction of agriculture and poultry related storages and promotion of value chains development (Serial No 2 of 5th schedule of Customs Act). It asks the government to announce zero per cent duties and taxes on cool chain machinery/equipment (serial No 3). “The government must incentivise the conversion of electric/diesel tubewells into solar ones and promote reverse metering,” it adds.

About poultry, the ministry has pointed that there was 16 per cent duty/tax on grandparent stock day old chicks and 21 per cent on parent stock day old chick and 12 per cent on parent stock hatching eggs. “Therefore, it is proposed to reduce import duty on poultry foundation seeds above to to 3 per cent uniformed duty to bring it on a par with seeds of other agro produce. Since the import duty on poultry feed additives (vitamins, premixes, amino acids and coccidiostates have varied duties (from 3 to 10 per cent), it is proposed to the uniform rate of 3 per cent. It wants continuation of sales tax exemption on poultry feed,” it demands.

While discussing the dairy and livestock sector, the proposal mentions that the dairy processed/packaged milk has been exempt from zero rating. It is proposed to reduce inputs cost sales tax from 17 to 7 per cent.

It says the duty rates on skimmed milk powder and whey powder has already raised from current 45 to 60 per cent. There should be sales tax exemption on essential veterinary medicines and markup free loans to young vets for establishing a standardised vet clinics in rural areas.

The proposal desires fish and shrimp feed be exempted from 20 per cent GST on the analogy of poultry feed. “Imported fish babies should also be exempted from 20 per cent GST. And import duty on fish fillet and frozen fish be increased to 30 per cent,” it states.

The proposal finally demands reduction in the mark up (to 7 per cent) on agricultural credits.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2017