ISLAMABAD, May 3: Pakistan on Tuesday allowed duty- and tax-free import of four essential commodities and one million head of cattle per year from India at an estimated cost of more than $40 million, through rail and land routes. The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on the recommendations of the Committee on Prices of Essential Items to check rise in prices of essential goods.
The decision was announced by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah after the meeting. Mr Shah, who is also convenor of the committee, said the meeting had decided to allow import of potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic, besides cattle.
He said the imports would take place through private sector and the government agencies would provide quarantine facilities and ensure that quality of the imported items. The CBR would ensure clearance of perishable items like onions and tomatoes does not take long.
If economically feasible, the private sector could import the items from China, the adviser said. The committee did not limit the quantity of import of the items but it was expected that at least 150,000 tons of potato and 10,000 tons of garlic would be imported.
The import of potato has been allowed on the request of the Punjab government. The onion crop in Sindh has been damaged by recent rains and its expected shortfall on a countrywide basis will be around 10-20 per cent. Sindh has 51 per cent share in local onion produce.