ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtyar on Friday said urea was being smuggled to Afghanistan from Sindh and the PPP government was not sharing the data to help trace the movement of urea trucks.
Addressing a news conference along with Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar and top management of fertiliser companies, Mr Bakhtyar said that urea movement was being traced using a portal developed by the Ministry of Industries and Production.
“This portal also includes provinces and fertiliser manufacturers. Punjab is checking up to 88 per cent movement of urea but there is no significant response from Sindh,” the industries minister said.
Federal minister denies fertiliser shortage in the country
“Urea bags seized from Chaman were coming from a flour mill in Ghotki,” he said, adding that the Sindh government should have some feelings for the country and the farmers and must stop urea smuggling.
He assured the farmers that the country will have surplus stock of 4.4 million urea bags in February. The inventory in March will be 8.2m bags in the hands of dealers and the fertiliser plants, he added.
“There is no reason to panic. More than 2m urea bags imported from China have already reached our ports. We are working with the provinces to manage the sales among the districts as per their requirements,” Mr Bakhtyar said.
The energy minister said smuggling was a lucrative business in the recent past as there was around five times price differential between the locally produced urea and the imported urea.
Mr Azhar said the Customs department has not only apprehended the urea consignments that were being smuggled out of the country, but the whole chain has been traced.
He added that unlike the tradition, this government did not curtail gas supply to the fertiliser plants in November and as a result urea production has reached to its peak in 2021.
“At the same time the government is providing subsidised gas to the fertiliser plants which has kept the cost of local urea production low. Fertilisers in the international markets are five times costlier,” the energy minister added.
The press conference was attended by FFC CEO Sarfraz Rehman, Fatima Fertilizer CEO Fawad Ahmed Mukhtar and Engro Fertilizer CEO Imran Ahmed.
The manufacturers said that the due to availability of gas in winters, the plants were operating continuously without interruptions and as a result a bag that costs Rs11,000 was available at Rs1,768 per bag in the country. They further stressed that there were no shortage of urea in Pakistan.
The fertiliser manufacturers also highlighted that the current urea rates in Pakistan were the same as they were in 2012.
The manufacturers asked the dealers as well as the farmers to avoid panic buying and purchase urea only according to their requirements.
The fertiliser manufacturers also said that they have transferred around Rs400 billion profits to the farmers.
The manufacturers also announced that complaints can be lodged at the helpline of that relevant company whose dealer was overcharging or allegedly creating artificial urea shortage. The supplies will be smooth in February too.
The industry players said that by adding the impact of subsidised gas, the total benefit being given to the farmers amounted to Rs790 per 20 kg urea bag, whereas in terms of price parity with the international markets the farmers were getting an advantage of around Rs9,000 per bag.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022