November 23, 2022 (MLN): Azerbaijan has removed Custom Duty (CD) on rice import from Pakistan for five years till 2027, Rafique Suleman Convener Rice Committee at FPCCI informed today.
This development will improvise the volume of rice exports, he added.
He lauded the steps taken by the Azerbaijan government that will encourage trade between the two countries.
He also appreciated the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to taken several steps to boost two-way trade with Azerbaijan by opening a new avenue and said that it will boost rice export by $20 million per annum.
* Pak-Canada bilateral trade can be increased to $5b by making more efforts
“Canada is an import-oriented country and the business community of Pakistan has a good opportunity to tap this potential market for trade and exports. The Pakistani private sector can set up a base in Canada and capture the North American market.”
This was said by Faisal Kakar, Deputy Head of Mission-designate to Canada while exchanging views with the business community during his visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), said a press release issued here. Faisal Kakar said that he could facilitate online B2B meetings between Pakistani and Canadian entrepreneurs to explore areas of mutual cooperation.
He said that Pakistan can export many products to Canada including rice, textiles, IT and software, and others. He said that around 0.6 to 0.7 million people from the Pakistani community were living in Canada and some of them had been elected in the Canadian parliament. He said those parliamentarians could play an effective role in improving trade and economic ties between Pakistan and Canada.
He assured that he would try to share information with ICCI about business opportunities for Pakistan in Canada so that the private sector could make efforts to take advantage of them. Speaking at the occasion, Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Canada in 2020 was just around US$ 1.11 billion, which was not according to the actual potential of both countries. He said that with better efforts, bilateral trade can be increased to 3-5 billion US dollars. He stressed that both countries should focus on developing strong business linkages between their private sectors to explore new areas of cooperation.
He said that the Pakistani High Commission in Canada should explore the products that were in good demand in Canada and share such information with chambers of commerce & industry so that Pakistan’s private sector can capture better market share in Canada. He said that many sectors of Pakistan’s economy offer great opportunities for JVs and investment and stressed that the Pakistani diaspora in Canada should be motivated to invest in Pakistan. Faad Waheed, Senior Vice President ICCI said that Pakistan and Canada were agro-based economies and had good potential to enhance cooperation in this sector.
Khalid Iqbal Malik Group Leader, Zubair Ahmed Malik, Zafar Bakhtawari, Muhammad Ejaz Abbasi, Raja Imtiaz, Khalid Chaudhry, Mehmood Ahmed Warraich and others were also spoke at the occasion and offered useful proposals to further improve bilateral trade ties between Pakistan and Canada.
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan say the statement regarding no demand of basmati rice in the world is misleadingKarachi: Rice exporters on Thursday came hard on a Prime Minister’s aide for underestimating the export potential of Pakistani basmati that fetches the country more than $800 million. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said the statement regarding no demand of basmati rice in the world is misleading, as Pakistan exports basmati worth more than $800 million every year. REAP expressed serious concern over a public statement by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Agriculture Jamshed Cheema that demand in export markets is mostly for coarse rice while the Pakistani farmers are intoxicated with basmati rice and should shift to production of coarse rice. The aide said basmati rice should only be produced for local consumption. “The statement of the special assistant is patently false and misleading,” Qayum Paracha, chairman of REAP said in a statement. “REAP would like to apprise that basmati is sown in Punjab since 17th century and due to its unique aroma, our basmati rice acts as Pakistan’s ambassador globally,” Paracha said. Pakistan’s current basmati rice exports are around $800 million per annum out of total $2.3 billion rice exported per annum. Hundreds of thousands of people in the whole supply chain of basmati rice from farmers, millers and work force to exporters and brand owners are dependent on the crop, he added. REAP has announced a reward of Rs10 million to any rice breeder, government or private sector, who comes up with high productivity basmati rice new seed. “Instead of encouraging research and yield increase in basmati crop which has a potential of more than $3 billion export annually, Cheema is discouraging sowing of this heritage product,” he said. “Such irresponsible statements by people sitting on highest echelons of Pakistan will jeopardize our case in European Union. Such damaging stance by a high official of the government negates all our efforts to safeguard our heritage since centuries in basmati rice besides billions invested in rice mills, export market brand equity.” In March, the European Union accepted the reasons of Pakistani rice exporters for why India should not be given exclusive rights to export basmati. REAP had filed the statement in opposition to India’s claim of geographical indication of basmati on February 5 after sending the notice of opposition on December 7 last. Pakistan has been challenging India’s bid to obtain exclusive rights of exporting basmati rice to the 27-member European Union since last year. India is the world’s biggest basmati exporter and meets 65 percent of the global demand for the aromatic rice. Pakistan meets the remaining requirement.
With 450 out of Sindh’s 630 mills located in the district, the urban areas are a hub of rice productionLarkana got status of divisional headquarters in the late 80s but it was divided in 2004 and Kambar Shahdadkot was carved out as an independent district. Sukkur’s barrage’s Rice, Dadu and Kirthar (North Western) canals feed Larkana and other districts with the last one feeding Balochistan as well. Initially, better water flows from the canals lead to prosperity in the area but soon faced silting from River Indus. As evident from its name — Rice canal — is a large irrigation channel that feeds rice-growing areas of Larkana in Kharif period. Dadu and NWC also irrigate areas of Larkana and its neighbouring district. These canals are about to become part of the feasibility studies of the $480 million, World bank-funded Sindh Agriculture and Water Transformation (SWAT) project. The Larkhana division is a hub of rice production with a large number of mills. The division is known for rice cultivation and production. It is grown in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kambar-Shahdadkot and Shikarpur districts falling in the division. Sindh’s share in Pakistan’s rice production is estimated to be 28.6 per cent in terms of area and 38.6pc in production in 2017-18, according to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. In Sindh, around 38pc of the area remains under cultivation of the coarse variety or IRRI-6. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) says Pakistan is the world’s 11th largest rice producer, accounting for 8pc of the global rice trade. This is why REAP chairman Qayyum Piracha underscores the need for introducing mechanised farming to achieve the required growth potential in exports. Sindh agriculture officials say area under rice cultivation in Sindh was reported at 516,900ha (five years’ average of 2000-01 to 2004-05) which reached to 828,292ha in 2017-18, showing 60.24pc increase. Production-wise, Sindh had 1,414,700 tonnes of clean rice previously (five years’ average of 2000-01 to 2004-05), which increased to 2,850,524 tonnes in 2017-18, indicating a 101.5pc increase in production. Yield per ha in Sindh was 2,737 kg (five years’ average of 2000-01 to 2004-05) which reached to 3,441kgs in 2017-18, and 3,493kgs per ha (five years’ average i.e. 2013-14 to 2017-18). It shows an increase of 27.62pc in per ha crop. In 2018-19, per ha yield was achieved at 3,725 kg — highest in the last two decade. Sindh got the highest yield per acre of rice at a national level. Average yield per ha of crop nationally was 2,339kgs (5 years’ average of 2010-11 to 2014-15), correspondingly, it was 3,495kgs in Sindh in the same period thus recording an increase of 49.4pc in yield per ha over national yield. During 2019-20 season, Sindh surpassed the acreage target of 770,000ha by achieving 775,862ha acreage. The unusual increase in area, production and yield is because growers use imported hybrid variety instead of Sindh’s indigenous varieties like subdasi, shandar, KS282, DR etc. This variety gives higher yields and can be used as a late-sowing variety as well. Late Z A Bhutto had established the Dokri Rice Research Institute in Larkana to boost to rice production. Growers, however, remained dissatisfied with the institute’s performance as far as the quality of rice seed is concerned. The institute needs strengthening. According to the institute’s head Wali Mohammad Baloch, the hybrid variety of seed has destroyed growers. He said the institute has produced DR-60 and DR59 varieties with matching yield potential as far as the hybrid variety is concerned. “It is the hybrid variety that is now hit by a sterility problem due to climate change and growers are unable to cope with it,” he says. The institute is pursuing a scheme of ‘seed production enhancement technology’ which awaits government approval. “We also want to promote Sindh’s indigenous varieties to lessen reliance on imported hybrid seed,” he remarked. Growers themselves realise that the hybrid variety has become a major problem for them and are paying the price for opting for it blindly. A progressive grower and Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) representative from Larkana, Irfan Jatoi aptly describes this. “Larkana faces a water shortage. Hybrid seeds can be sown as late as possible therefore growers opted for it as the late sowing variety initially. When it increased yields, they naturally inclined towards it further to make an extra buck in the last decade,” he says. Lately, however, they faced problems of sterility thus incurring losses and are having second thoughts. “Adulterated hybrid variety is being marketed so growers are less inclined,” he says. Arif Ali Mahesar, a rice miller and grower, subscribes to Jatoi’s views. “Hybrid was late variety but when growers started using it for early sowing due to better water availability they didn’t get the desired 80 to 90 maunds of yields they had become accustomed to,” he says. Hybrid seed is expensive and needs massive inputs by farmers. Post-harvest losses during milling is another factor. With the upgradation of machinery in mills, at least 30,000 tonnes of rice production could be increased by offsetting post-harvest losses. Larkana’s industrial sector mainly revolves around rice mills. It has one sugar mill — Naudero — and a few flour mills. Business leaders including Larkana’s ex-mayor Khair M Shaikh and Larkana Chamber of Commerce president Mohammad Ali Shaikh contend that most of the industrialists own rice mills. They say Dokri Rice Research Institute needs to put its foot down and come up with new seed varieties and improve Sindh’s indigenous varieties. “Broken ratio in rice during milling is around 45pc to 50pc due to seed quality,” says Mr Shaikh. The Sindh government’s Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) is struggling to promote mechanised farming in rice. For the last seven years, it is supporting rice millers as far as the upgrading of their milling system is concerned. According to Mehboobul Haq of SEDF, out of around 630 rice mills, 450 were located in Larkana. “What SEDF is doing is to absorb markup of bank loans offered to rice millers for upgrading their systems. It is a markup subsidy which Sindh government is providing. We are supporting growers at farm level for promoting mechanised farming,” he says. A consortium of leading companies in the agriculture sector joined together to provide specialised machinery services to rice farmers in lower Sindh for nurseries, transplantation and harvesting. In terms of orchards, Larkana is famous for its guava production. Around 3,200ha are brought under guava cultivation in winter, followed by mango and watermelon on around 160ha each. Wheat, cotton, barley, sugarcane, mustard, gram, sesame etc are also produced throughout the year on a minor scale. Larkana’s share in cotton production is 0.3pc and wheat’s share is 4.3pc, according to a district profiling figure, compiled by Hina Shahid. In the livestock sector, the share of cattle and buffaloes is calculated at 3.1pc and 7.2pc as per the 2006 livestock census. Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 11th, 2021
In July 2020, rice export shipments shrank to 266,206 tonnes from 365,138 tonnes in July 2019. Export earnings fell to $148.8 million from $194.5m.These numbers released recently by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) do not necessarily indicate that during this fiscal year rice exports would tumble. But they bring to the fore some inefficiencies of exporters and government-run agencies. In 2019-20, Pakistan’s rice exports fetched $2.27 billion with an annual growth rate of five per cent, according to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign trade report. This increase came at a time when Pakistan’s total food export bill of about $4.36bn was down more than 5pc from $4.61bn in 2018-19, according to the PBS. For the past few months, exporters were warning the government of the damage to the paddy crop during the ongoing second locust attack. The government claims it is fighting the second locust attack more furiously than it did during the first quarter of this year. It claims that the ongoing second attack has only slightly hurt the paddy crop that is at the flowering and harvesting stage. But exporters say the damage to the paddy crop, particularly in Sindh, is being underestimated by authorities. They say rice millers started factoring this in back in July and raised the prices of rice varieties for commercial exporters who, in turn, failed to export as much as they did in July last year.
The nation can spare 4.4m tonnes for exports as domestic consumption and contingency reserves don’t require more than 3m tonnes. But it is up to the Ministry of Commerce and our exporters to find buyers for 4.4m tonnes of riceEven the mills that directly export rice failed to get as large buying orders as they did in July last year: their own cost of rice processing increased owing to the general inflationary trend and due to higher forward paddy prices paid to growers who were anticipating the crop’s damage under the second locust attack. Going forward, the future of rice export earnings depends on whether exporters can manage to export 1m-1.2m tonnes of Basmati rice and 3m tonnes or more of non-Basmati varieties. In 2018-19 as well as 2019-20, total rice shipments remained above 4m tonnes. But the exports of Basmati rice stood at 791,000 tonnes and 890,000 tonnes in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) Chairman Shahjahan Malik hopes that during this fiscal year Basmati rice exports would touch the 1m-tonne mark. Based on July 2020 statistics of the PBS, the average export price of Pakistani Basmati rice now hovers around $955 per tonne whereas that of non-Basmati rice is around $453 per tonne. With some effort, the average export price for Basmati and non-Basmati could be raised to $1,100-1,200 per tonne and $500-600 per tonne, respectively. If this happens — and exporters, particularly those of Basmati rice, say they are working seriously to make this happen — then rice export earnings could be enhanced substantially with a little increase in the volume of 2019-20 that was below 4.2m tonnes. According to Reap statistics, the average export price of Basmati rice had shot up to $1,153 per tonne back in 2013-14. But this level could not be sustained in later years owing to fierce competition in global markets and, in recent years, also due to a huge depreciation that reduced massive gains in exports in the local currency. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently projected that Pakistan’s milled rice output during this crop year could be 7.4m tonnes against the target of about 8m tonnes set by our Federal Committee on Agriculture. The nation can easily spare 4.4m tonnes for exports as domestic consumption and contingency reserves don’t require more than 3m tonnes. But it is up to the Ministry of Commerce and our exporters to find buyers of 4.4m tonnes of rice. This should not be a problem as lockdowns in parts of India still continue, making rice exports difficult like they were in April-June. Our exporters grabbed that opportunity during the quarter to boost rice exports. But even if Pakistani exporters get some share of Indian rice exports, particularly in the Gulf region, overall competition in global markets this year is expected to remain tough — with Vietnam having a larger exportable surplus and with stricter rules in place for clearance of import consignments at ports of buying countries amidst Covid-19 safety measures. The USDA has projected a straight 17pc increase in Vietnam’s total rice output this year. Maintaining growth momentum in rice exports during this fiscal year also depends on whether brisk shipments to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia remain intact. They are among Pakistan’s important markets and our rice export earnings from these two countries were 18pc of the total, according to the SBP. Owing to the unfolding of deep and surprising strategic developments in the Gulf region, it is premature to predict how these developments will eventually impact our trade in the region. In 2019-20, our rice exports to China — the second largest market after the United Arab Emirates — did suffer because of Covid-19–triggered lockdowns earlier in China and later on in our own major cities. So the China factor would also determine to a great extent how our rice exports could grow in 2020-21. Exporters say that unlike the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, United States and the United Kingdom where Pakistan’s rice demand does not fall easily on price consideration, it does in China. This means that to boost rice exports to China, exporters will have to be more competitive than in the aforementioned countries. That is an uphill task, more so because in China there is far greater demand for our non-Basmati rice than Basmati varieties. And the damage done to paddy crops mainly due to the second locust attack and the increase in the transportation cost after a massive rise in domestic fuel prices have pushed up the cost of procurement of non-Basmati varieties for commercial and industrial exporters.
The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items that can be registered as a Geographical Indication (GI), informed Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Trade and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.“In response to my tweet on Geographical Indication (GI) on rice, many people have raised the possibility of registration of Salt as GI. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items which can be registered as GIs,” the advisor said in a tweet post on Friday. The advisor also requested all stakeholders to inform as to what course of action the Ministry of Commerce and IPO should take in case of salt. It is pertinent to inform that Geographical Indications (GIs) are a form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) which identify a product originating from a specific area, whose quality or reputation is attributable to its place of origin. In Pakistan, Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act, 2020 was enacted in March this year. A significant number of products have potential to be protected under the GI regime in Pakistan including products such as Basmati rice, Kinnow, mango, cutlery, Ajrak, etc. Weeks ago, Pakistan decided to give a befitting reply to India's claim of GI tag to Basmati Rice in the European Union and will file its opposition in the EU. Abdul Razak Dawood categorically stated that Pakistan will vehemently oppose India's application in the European Union and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of Basmati Rice.
“REAP has taken this step on behalf of rice exporters and farmers of Pakistan who are at the risk of losing a billion-dollars’ worth of income.”
Since 2006, the EU has applied zero tariffs on rice imported into the bloc that has been authenticated by either Pakistani or Indian authorities as genuine basmati. Pakistan has a thriving industry of export of Basmati, making the country one of the top five exporters of rice in the world. REAP said it has previously been involved in developing and revising UK Code of Practice and arranging trade delegations abroad to foster the export of Basmati from Pakistan.
“India had sought protection of its Basmati as a GI product in EU in a mala fide attempt to deter Pakistan’s growing export and appreciation of Basmati.”Pakistan’s export of Basmati to EU has almost doubled in the last five years and it has outpaced India’s exports of the same. The importers and customers in EU appreciate Pakistan’s Basmati more than that of India due to its exotic aroma, sweeter taste and soft texture and above all in terms of food safety including Pesticides which has resulted in increased demand. Basmati, being a centuries old heritage of Pakistan, could not be allowed to be monopolised by India in the European market.
“Such a gross misrepresentation by India on the origins of Basmati is an attack on the values of fair competition among farmers and exporters in EU,” the statement said.Pakistan has a legal right to export Basmati with its original name in accordance with the practice in EU which is decades old. European importers have also raised their objections against the Indian stance, and in support of Pakistan. The statement said REAP is striving for an early legislation on the GI rules in Pakistan along with the Ministry of Commerce.
“It will enable Pakistan’s exporters and farmers of Basmati to prevent their product from being used by the same name in international markets.”REAP said n internally registered GI of Basmati will strengthen Pakistan’s case in the coming legal stages in the EU. REAP remains optimist that Pakistan has strong case as EU recognises the country as authentic basmati growing region. “The protection of Basmati as Pakistan’s indigenous product is crucial to sustain the rice exports, Consequently, REAP is leading the way in this endeavor without any regards to costs.”
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has succeeded in canceling the illegal registration of ‘Kernal’ for trademark by an overseas rice company, Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood disclosed on Tuesday.The adviser did not mention the name of the country or the company which had sought trademark registration in his tweets, but interactions with senior officials in various ministries confirmed that the registration had happened in Saudi Arabia. This is the second time that a company in Saudi Arabia tried to monopolise the well-known trademark of ‘Kernel’ rice. Back in 2003, a leading Saudi company importing rice from different sources including Pakistan applied for registration of a trademark “Kernel.” However, timely action by the commercial section of the Pakistani mission in Jeddah compelled Saudi authorities to refuse the registration in the Kingdom. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) Chairman Abdul Qayum Paracha told Dawn that the issue was settled by the Saudi government. “The cancellation of trade mark will provide more protection to Pakistani brands and will lead to more exports,” he added. Neither the government officials nor the Reap chairman disclosed the name of the company which has registered ‘Kernal’ as trademark. On Aug 6 this year, Reap had sent a letter to the Ministry of Commerce to raise the issue diplomatically with the Saudi government for the earliest resolution. The ministry was informed that a Saudi Arabia-based rice export company had illegally registered the word ‘Kernal’ as a brand name which is similar to ‘Super Kernel’ — a premium rice variety grown in Pakistan. According to Reap, there is a lot of similarity between word ‘Kernal’ and ‘Kernel’. The association believes that the similar sounding words would have confused consumers the world over. On the request of the Reap, an official source said, the government of Pakistan had taken up the issue with the Saudi authorities to cancel the word ‘Kernal’ from its trademark list because ‘Super Kernel’ is a type of rice variety grown in Pakistan and legally it cannot be registered as a brand name. “We have received the cancellation certificate,” the commerce adviser confirmed to Dawn. “This was tantamount to unfair use of intellectual property of Pakistan, as the word is similar to ‘Super Kernel’, a premium Pakistani rice variety,” he said. The adviser thanked Reap for bringing the issue to the Ministry of Commerce’s notice. “I urge exporters to keep informing the ministry of commerce of such violations so that we can protect Pakistan’s intellectual property overseas,” he added. According to Reap, Pakistan is the 13th largest rice producer in the world and the 4th largest rice exporting country, with a 15 percent share in Global Rice Industry. Different varieties of rice grown in Pakistan include Super Basmati and Super Kernel Basmati Rice among others.
Basmati is most likely of medieval origin. The history and folklore of basmati rice is an academic paper published last year in the Journal of Cereal Research. It was written by Subhash Chander, Uma and Siddharth Ahuja.Subhash Chander Ahuja is a retired plant pathologist from the Rice Research Station, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Kaul, Haryana. Uma Ahuja is a retired professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Kaul, Haryana. Siddharth Ahuja is from the Department of Pharmocology, Shaheed Hasan Khan Mewati Government Medical College, Nalhar, Mewat, Haryana. In section 3.1 titled Historical growing areas, their paper reads:
The Ain-i-Akbari records cultivation of Mushkeen in the subahs of Lahore, Multan, Allahabad, Oudh, Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and the Raisen area of Malwa SubahMushkeen, also called Lal Basmati, is the red-husked variant of Basmati. Though not as popular as the light, golden-husked variant today, the paper says, it was popular in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. Significantly though, the paper reminds us that Basmati did grow in the Lahore and Multan provinces of the Mughal Empire, which are today in present-day Pakistan.
…All kinds of varieties of rice, even Mushki and Basmutti and Musagir and Begami and SonputtiIt is worth noting that Heer-Ranjha is set in the town of Jhang on the east bank of the Chenab in Pakistan’s Punjab. Ironically, this paragraph was cited by the Indian government while contesting Texas-based firm, RiceTec’s attempt in the late 1990s to appropriate Basmati rice. Even more ironically, India at the time was actively supported by the Pakistani government. Both eventually succeeded in thwarting RiceTec’s scheme. But even as the subcontinental twins squabble over Basmati, Indian farmers are increasingly finding it hard to grow it.
The reasons are many. In just seven years, the price of Basmati has halved. Why? Because, India’s exports have been hit due to the pesticides controversy as well as US sanctions on Iran, a major importer.Exporters have not paid to rice mill owners, who in turn have reduced purchase of basmati from local cultivators. This, then, is the current status of our Basmati farmers. Dayanand, a farmer of Basmati from Ghummanhera village on the outskirts of Delhi, told Down To Earth that getting a GI tag from the European Union would not improve his or his peers’ lot. Returning to the question of the GI tag, India and Pakistan have a bitter relationship. But the Republic of India was founded on the principle of fairness. Morality, fairness and ethics dictate that India is on a sticky wicket as far as claiming Basmati as entirely its own is concerned. Our move may destroy Pakistan’s basmati farmers. But will it improve the lot of our farmers? But in these times of hyper-nationalism, populism and nativism, all such talk is anathema, sacrilege, and blasphemy. And lest anybody’s sentiments are hurt after seeing this, I tender my apology. As things stand, my task is to inform. Until the final decision comes out on December 10, on who actually owns it, just sit back…and enjoy your basmati…Bon Appetit.
17:53 - 38 billion rupees to be allocated for improving water reservoirs. 17:49 - Pakistan had 1200 megat watts surplus in 1999 and it went several thousand mega watts in deficit. But next year, this load shedding will have become history. 17:48 - Most of the population expected to remain below 20 years of age in the ongoing census. 17:48 - Rs 411 billion allocated for transport sector, including highways, railways and aviation. 17:46 - Mobile telephone companies accessories import duties to be reduced. 17:46 - Withholding tax and excise duties on mobile phone to be reduced. 17:45 - First year to be exempted from tax for IT companies setting up in Pakistan. 17:44 - IT Software Park being made in Islamabad with the help of South Korea. 17:43 - Innovation Challenges Fund to be formed. 17:42 - Disaster Risk Management Fund has been formed with Rs 525.1 million for covering the risk of small businesses. 17:41 - Government to form e-banking department in State Bank for encouraging mobile banking. The project will cost Rs 2 billion. 17:41 - Subsidy on urea, fertiliser to continue. 17:40 - Pakistan Infrastructure Bank to be formed for project financing. Pakistan to own 20% of shares, World Bank to hold 20% shares and the rest to be owned by private organisations and financial institutions. 17:40 - Pakistan currently has a deficit of 1 million houses. 17:39 - Banks don t provide long-term loans for housing. Government to provide 40% credit guarantee to the banks and financial institutions for housing loans up to Rs 1 million. 17:38 - Custom duty on raw hides to be removed, overseas warehousing of rice to be permitted. 17:37 - Pakistan s exports dropped due to the drop in prices of agricultural products in the global market. 17:37 - Government to start brand development fund for textile industry. 17:36 - Textile import duty waiver to continue this year as well. 17:36 - Ad-hoc reliefs added in 2009-10 to be incorporated into the salaries. 17:34 - Government will encourage import of agriculture machinery by removing the custom and import duties on the import of combined harvester used for less than 5 years. 17:33 - Government will keep providing the electricity to agricultural tubewells at Rs 5.35 per unit during off-peak hours. 17:32 - State Bank working on linking banking system with land record management system. 17:32 - Sales tax on FDP to be reduced from Rs 400 per bag to Rs 100 per bag. 17:31 - Loans worth Rs 1001 billion to be provided for agriculture sector. 17:30 - Rs 50,000 loans for agriculture to be provided to farmers owning land less than 12.5 acres. Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan will be leading the initiative while State Bank of Pakistan to suprevise. 17:28 - 118 billion rupees allocated for subsidy on electricity. 17:28 - Balochistan to especially benefit from the solar power projects during the next year. 17:27 - Subsidy to the households using less than 300 units will continue. 17:26 - The proverty survey of 2002 said the population living below poverty line was over 64% while it has dropped to less than 30% now. 17:26 - GDP growth rate target to be set at 6% for the next year. 17:25 - Agricultural tubewell electricity subsidy to continue. 17:25 - 5.5 million families to now receive funds from Benazir Income Support Program. 17:24 - Around 10,000 mega watts of electricity will be added to the national grid in the coming year, eliminating load shedding from Pakistan completely. 17:23 - Tax facilities will be provided to agriculture and IT sectors. 17:23 - We will raise the development budget by 40% i.e. 1001 billion rupees. 17:22 - Our budget deficit will be kept at 4.1% during the next financial year. 17:21 - We have to improve and consolidate the achievements of the current year in the FY 2017-18. 17:20 - Pakistan signed OECD convention as a part of reforms to attain tax transparency. 17:19 - Bills pertaining to income tax reforms were signed by this House during 2015-16 and it d help Pakistan to attain the improved levels of transparency globally. 17:18 - Government signed the OGP document recently after Pakistan was invited to the agreement as it completed all the requirements. 17:15 - Azan break 17:15 - Remittances woth 15.60 billion dollars were sent to Pakistan during current fiscal year during the first 10 months. 17:14 - Companies listed with the government will have to include women in the boards of directors. 17:12 - Pakistan s stock market was compared with the best stock markets of Asia. 17:11 - Pakistan s rating to improve from frontier market status to emerging market status on June 1 according to Standard & Poor s. 17:10 - Remittances are expected to rise during the last couple of months of the current financial year due to Ramazan and Eid festivals in May and June. 17:10 - FBR will be able to collect 3521 billion rupees during the current financial year. 17:09 - Services sector s GDP growth remained 5.98% during the current financial year. 17:09 - Agricultural GDP growth rate remained 3.46%. 17:08 - Per capital income rose by 22%. 17:07 - State Bank s interest rate brought down to the least in Pakistan s history. 17:06 - Budget deficit in 2012-13 of 8.2% has been reduced to 4.2% of the GDP this year. 17:05 - Opposition walks out of the House. 17:05 - Global ratings agencies improved Pakistan s ratings during the last four years. 17:05 - For the first time in Pakistan s history, the country s economic volume has risen to 300 billion dollars. 17:04 - Pakistan s financial performance remained better than most of the countries across the globe. 17:03 - Opposition chants slogans against the government as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar shares the financial performance during the previous year. 17:02 - Pakistan will be added to the G20 by 2030 17:01 - The GDP growth rate remained 5.3% during the current financial year. 16:57 - Ishaq Dar begins his budget speech. 16:51 - Leader of the Opposition, Khurshid Shah granted permission to take the mic before Ishaq Dar proceeds 16:45 - Speaker of the NA, Ayaz Sadiq presides over a session
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