LAHORE: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced on Friday that total agricultural loans will be increased 25 per cent from Rs1,800 billion in the outgoing fiscal year to Rs2,250bn in 2023-24.
He said Rs30bn has been allocated to help farmers convert electricity- and diesel-run tube-wells to solar energy.
All taxes and duties on the import of quality seeds, combined harvesters and machinery used in plantation and the drying up of the rice crop have also been withdrawn.
A sum of Rs5bn has been apportioned for loans at concessional mark-up rates for agro industries. Food-processing units with a turnover of up to Rs800 million a year have been exempt from taxation.
The government has also earmarked Rs6bn for extending a subsidy on imported urea and Rs10bn for loans to small farmers at a low mark-up. The provincial governments will share the burden for soft loans for small-holders on an equal basis.
Members of the farming community told Dawn it appears to be a perfunctory exercise that lacks vision and long-term planning. They believe the core issue for farmers has been the cost of production, which continues to rise at a high pace. But no relief has been offered in this regard as part of the 2023-24 budget, they said.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2023