A National Agriculture Emergency Programme worth PKR 278 billion has been approved after a five-hour long meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, here on Tuesday.
The declaration of an agriculture emergency to increase the profitability of farmers was one of the first 35 initiatives the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had promised after coming into power.
The cabinet recommended that steps should be taken to help boost the agricultural sector, whilst approving the Rs. 278 billion program.
Amongst the other actions taken, the cabinet passed a bill to cut the “entertainment and gift budget” of the prime minister, ministers, and senior officers, and called for further recommendations on the matter in the next meeting.
Fawad Chaudhry, the Information Minister while briefing the media on decisions taken by the cabinet, said that a task force on the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) will be formed.
ETPB is a government department that administers evacuee properties, including educational, charitable or religious trusts left behind by Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India after Independence.
The cabinet sought recommendations from all the pertinent departments on the issue whilst calling for the inclusion of members from minority groups in the task force. The matter of appointing its chairman was postponed for a week according to Fawad. They were also briefed on the reforms in the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).
Details About Govt’s Agriculture Expenditure
A total of Rs. 290 billion will be spent on agriculture by the government with 18 big schemes to be implemented in the next five years, said Fawad.
During the last eight years, the agricultural sector was impacted negatively because the spending had been reduced by 60 percent. The federal minister further stated that agricultural imports have touched the $4 billion mark including a $2 billion bill for importing edible oil.
The new agricultural scheme will emphasize on boosting per capita production, cautious use of water and increased access to farming credits whilst the livestock and fisheries sector will be given special attention as they have huge export potential, said the minister.