LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Monday called for immediate withdrawal of 17 per cent Sale Tax (ST) on all kinds of agricultural seeds to avoid hovering threat of impending food insecurity and rising inflation in the country.
Addressing a joint press conference here at LCCI where Chamber’s Acting President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan said that agriculture is backbone of economy which accounts for 24 per cent of GDP, the distribution of seed sector stands on top. He pointed out number of implications including 20 per cent rise in prices of seeds and essential commodities; sharp decrease in agro-based export due to low yield; shift from formal to informal sector; increased use of low-yield home-grown seeds resulting in low yield of crops; disincentivising existing businesses which have already invested in R&D of seed varieties.
Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) Chairman Shahzad Ali Malik said it is good omen that Governor Punjab Baligh-ur-Rehman had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He said the governor, during a meeting with him on June 3, asked for preparing a viable proposal highlighting issues coupled with recommendations for promotion of seed sector, which must include local production of hi-tech hybrid seeds and transfer of technology to achieve high yield and save farmers from an expensive and poor quality seeds from the informal seed sector.
He said the PHHSA is fully committed to promoting hi-tech seeds localisation, transfer of technology and import substitution which are long term solutions for Pakistan’s economic prosperity and growth of its seed sector.
Senior Vice Chairman PHHSA Shafiq-ur-Rehman said that 80 per cent of Pakistan’s export earnings were dependent on agriculture raw material and it would massively increase the cost of doing business and make seed sector non-viable and unattractive for local, foreign and CPEC phase-II investors and divert focus on China agriculture model which is only hope of success.