KARACHI: As exporters sought a 15-day extension, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal Khan said on Monday that the ban on onion exports was only for Ramazan till April 15, and no extension was under consideration.

The minister stated this while talking to media persons after a meeting with the office-bearers of the Pakistan Business Council (PBC).

As the export ban has failed to provide any price relief, exporters have asked the government to extend it till April 30.

In a letter to the Ministry of Commerce, All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron in Chief Waheed Ahmed said that exporters had unanimously decided to extend the ban by 15 days for the country’s interest.

Chicken, gold rates hit new peak ahead of Eidul Fitr

Amid a surge in exports following an Indian ban, consumers have paid up to Rs350 per kg for locally produced onion compared to Rs50-120 per kg in September 2023. Pakistan restricted exports from the second week of March 2024 to lower the onion prices but consumers did not get any relief.

The Indian government initially imposed a ban on Dec 8, 2023 till March 31 but recently extended it till further orders to ensure domestic availability and stabilise prices.

Pakistani onion exporters took full advantage of the Indian ban to earn handsome foreign exchange at the cost of unbearable local prices.

Karachi’s official onion rate is Rs219 per kg, but traders charge Rs250-Rs300 per kg.

Boosting confidence

According to APP, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal, speaking at the PBC, said that the government was confident and focused on improving all the factors linked with the economy to boost the business community’s confidence.

He said that the ministry was well aware of its responsibility to reach out to the business community for input and was determined to do its utmost to resolve the challenges that businessmen and industrialists face.

He said that the government and the business community were considering the options to move things positively.

He said smuggling was also controlled to a greater extent in the previous caretaker government period and some of the initiatives needed to be taken ahead.

“Steps were taken during the last five months to improve the border control mechanism and now the government has decided to establish a dedicated authority to enable all the concerned departments to operate under one umbrella,” he added.

Jam acknowledged that suggestions were received from car manufacturers and that decisions would be made ahead of the next budget.

Regarding the deteriorating security situation in Karachi, he said that law and order are provincial subjects. However, the federal government would continue extending its cooperation and bring improvement.

Chicken

As Eidul Fitr is just one day away, retailers have increased the price of broiler live birds by up to Rs540 per kg from Rs420-460 per kg two weeks ago.

Surprisingly, Commissioner Karachi’s retail price for broiler live birds is Rs428 per kg. Ignoring the official poultry meat rate of Rs663, retailers charge Rs760-800 per kg to consumers.

Gold at new peak

The local one-tola gold rates hit an all-time high of Rs245,700 on Monday, up by Rs600 per tola based on world bullion prices, which also reached a record $2,355 per ounce, up by $5 per ounce.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2024

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