ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government on Monday imposed a ban on fertiliser distribution companies found violating the government policy subsidising supply of diammonium phosphate (DAP) via vouchers to farmers.

The vouchers supplied to these companies have been blocked and an investigation against them has been initiated, a spokesman of Punjab Agriculture Department said.

The spokesman said that under the ‘Khadam-e-Punjab Kissan Package’, the government was providing subsidy on DAP fertiliser to 5.2 million farmers across the province. Provision of DAP to the farmers continues in a transparent way, he said adding, “To ensure cent per cent transparency of all vouchers that are not packed with fertiliser bags have been blocked and only registered farmers can get advantage of the subsidy scheme.”

The spokesman further said price fluctuation of fertiliser corelates with international market. Consequently, the Punjab government began providing the subsidy since July 2017 when different companies were selling the commodity for Rs2638 to Rs2670 per bag.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has stated that the availability of DAP may witness slight deficiency for the reason of low production and import by private sector. The ministry has asked provinces to make pre-emptive measures for ensuring sufficient availability of all requisite fertilisers at reasonable prices.

While the ministry says the supply of urea will remain comfortable during the Rabi season 2017-18 due to enhanced local production and sufficient stock position, there have been reports forecasting a debilitating shortage of DAP.

However import data shows that currently DAP is readily stocked in sufficient quantity, however urea supply is likely to face some shortage.

On the other hand, fertiliser manufacturing companies are putting pressure on the government to release the long-delayed subsidy claims amounting to over Rs15bn. These companies claim that the food security ministry has not been able to expedite the withheld subsidy amount.

According to sources privy to the fertiliser industry, an option of the sale of urea during the month of December will considered if outstanding subsidy claims were not paid by the end of November in accordance with the directives of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2017

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