Fake tractor firms clamour for Benazir Tractor Scheme

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ISLAMABAD: Fake Tractor importers are using the usual tactics to obtain entry into the Benazir Tractor Scheme (BTS), well informed sources revealed to the Business Recorder on Thursday. The Federal Cabinet had recently approved the scheme, envisaging a subsidy of Rs 0.2 million per unit with the choice of local or imported tractor left to the discretion of the farmer, the sources said.

Presently, only two local manufacturers, ie Al-Ghazi Tractors Limited and Millat Tractors, and Karachi-based Shahzad Trade Links, which is the sole agent of Belarus Tractors, in Pakistan are expected to get the BTS.

Minister for Industries and Production Mian Manzoor Wattoo recently stated the local tractor manufacturers and the Pappam, the vendors, by stating that the scheme would be limited to only local manufactures, but official documents, available with Business Recorder, revealed that the story was different from what the minister told the local companies.

The sources said the Minfa was preparing to launch the scheme, which would include the option to purchase imported tractors. The government will provide 20,000 tractors to the farmers. In two letters, issued by the Director General, Water Management, Minfa, the ministry has indicated that "only those makes/models of tractors, which are enlisted by the ZTBL, would be offered under this scheme. Imported tractors are also listed with the ZTBL.

In letters, addressed to both local as well as importers, the tractors suppliers have been asked to furnish certificate from the EDB for manufacture, besides after sale service network and availability of spare parts. Both local manufacturers and importers have also been asked to furnish the modalities of transfer of technology OEMs.

Following the announcement, various new companies are now in the run to get them registered with the ZTBL and recently the EDB hurriedly issued approvals to at least two new companies, qualifying them as "local manufacturers." In the previous regime, companies like Dewan, Agro, Hero Russi, which several years ago were approved as "local manufacturers" to produce Fotton, John Deere and Hero Russi, have yet not produced a single tractor.

"These companies were also allowed to import CBU tractors at zero duty by the Shaukat Aziz government, but the scheme was quashed by Sindh High Court. It remains to be seen whether the EDB will validate and issue a certificate to enable them to qualify for the scheme as local manufacturers or whether they would just import tractors at zero duty and zero sales tax.

According to official documents, the Federal Cabinet envisages the scheme to cost Rs 10 billion with the government contributing rupees four billion. At a recent meeting, the Federal Cabinet was also intimated that the local manufacturers had committed delivery in three-six months.

The Prime Minister desired that it must be ensured that the local manufacturers would not increase the cost already agreed. He also informed the meeting that Italy had offered to supply tractors to Pakistan at concessional rates. The desirability of including imported tractors in the scheme was thoroughly debated. In view of free import regime, it was concluded that availability of parts and transfer of technology must be the criteria to accommodate imported tractors in the scheme.

The criteria of land holding and distribution were also discussed in detail and the proposed ceilings of land holding were agreed. Noting that record of land holding in Fata is not maintained, it was agreed that special dispensation would be allowed in that case.

The Cabinet concluded that the provincial share would be determined on the basis of population, however, special reserves for Balochistan, Fata, Fana and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) were desirable. It was further decided that balloting might be adopted, as the only mode of selection for supply of tractors and the applicants would be allowed the tractor of their choice.

The proposal to accommodate affectees of Awami Tractors Scheme was not agreed and it was desired that responsibility for mismanagement in their case should be fixed and the problem should be resolved separately. It was confirmed that the Finance Division would provide the required funding of rupees four billion in the current account budget of the next fiscal year.


Source: Business Recorder


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