India Queen Basmati Rice Ad.
India Queen Basmati Rice

As per sources, a delegation of REAP led by its chairman Rafique Sulaiman had a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad and presented a list of demands and issues related to the rice industry. It was informed that the rice exports have great potential. Emphasizing that it is the only sector which has shown outstanding performance during a very short span of 10-12 years and during this short period the exports have grown from $300 million to a staggering $2 billion.
Further, in this context, the first demand of REAP representatives was the extension of payback period for all State Bank-based export refinance loans including FE-25 based loans from 180 days to 360 days. In addition, it was asked for any penalties incurred to be waived. While, their second demand was to reduce withholding tax on rice to 0.25% from current 1% and to withdraw 3.5% withholding tax on local purchase of rice.
Further, it was revealed that another call was to give the status of industry to the rice milling plants and concessions to be extended as the textile industry, including reduced load-shedding of electricity and zero rating of General Sales Tax. Another demand was that Trading Corporation of Pakistan and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) would not intervene in rice trade, as in 2008 when the latter purchased rice. It was also stated that REAP demanded to privatize both rice research institutes (RRIs) at Kala Shah Kaku and Dokri. In case they are not privatized, the government must facilitate REAP for its own RRI.
In continuance with the demands the delegation also sought protection of the export trade of Basmati rice by focusing on markets of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the largest importers of Basmati rice. To protect the export trade of non-basmati rice, government must focus on the markets of China, the Philippines and Indonesia. In addition, REAP representatives also sought GSP Plus status for the rice sector as it was applicable in the case of textiles.
As per report, it was also suggested that controlling falling prices of rice by giving direct subsidy to farmers or to subsidize exports, so Pakistani rice can be exported at competitive rates. Finally, the demand include that the Rice Research Institute should work on the project to minimize the input cost and increase the yield and quality of Pakistani rice, so that the cost of paddy is reduced accordingly.
On all demands and issues of rice industry, it was informed by Mr Sulaiman that the Prime Minister told us to hold another meeting to discuss the proposals presented by the business community of different sectors.