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Farmers assail IMF terms for loan

November 03, 2008

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HYDERABAD, Nov 2: The Sindh Abadgar Board has rejected the government proposal for obtaining $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and cautioned that if the government does not change its decision it would be tantamount to signing the death warrant of the national economy.

The board leaders said at a meeting held on Saturday under its chairman Abdul Majeed Nizamani that the IMF always targeted agriculture sector and the fund was more likely to impose condition to end subsidy for agriculture sector.

The meeting pointed out that the IMF loan would be extremely dangerous for the national economy and political stability of the country and demanded that the president and prime minister bring the matter before the National Assembly.

The meeting advised the government to make efforts to obtain $1.5 billion from China by mortgaging shares of government corporations and $800 million reimbursement from the United States under the coalition support fund for war on terror.

The meeting warned that if the government fell into the IMF trap and withdrew subsidy on agriculture, it would have to spend more money on importing food items.

The meeting resolved to make the “Grow More Wheat” campaign a success and demanded that the government make all the purchasing centres for wheat functional in Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Badin and other areas where wheat was harvested earlier.

The meeting said that keeping in view 35 per cent shortage of water in the system, Irsa should be asked to ensure supply of 11.7 million acre foot water of Sindh’s share.

The meeting stressed the need for safeguarding wheat from the smugglers and disclosing the names of “30 respectable people” involved in the grain’s smuggling as disclosed by the prime minister himself on the floor of the assembly.

The meeting said that sugarcane growers were switching over to other crops largely due to government’s helplessness before PSMA over the past 10 years, which was very dangerous for sugar industry. The sugar mills must start crushing season according to government notification, the meeting demanded.

SCA: The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture warned on Sunday that delay in start of crushing season would seriously affect wheat cultivation and lead to wheat crisis in the coming months.

The senior vice-president of the chamber, Mir Murad Ali Khan Talpur, said at the chamber’s meeting that the government had fixed price of cotton at Rs1,900 per maund but the growers were being forced to sell their produce at Rs400 to Rs500 per maund.

The chamber’s general secretary, Akhund Ghulam Mohammad Siddiqui, complained that open blackmarketing of urea fertiliser had inflicted huge losses on the growers.

Sain Bux Rind said that Pasco’s failure to establish purchase centres for rice had created an opportunity for the rice traders to fleece growers. The government had fixed purchase of Irri-6 at Rs900 per maund but the growers were forced to sell their produce at Rs500 per maund, he said.