ISLAMABAD: While provincial governments voiced concern over a proposal to export additional quantity of urea amid fear of shortage, their reservations were set aside.
The Ministry of Commerce managed to get approval for export of an additional 35,000 tons of urea and won extension in the deadline for already approved shipments in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) held at the end of December 2017.
During the meeting, the national food security and research secretary stated that provinces had reservations about the export of urea who insisted that a buffer stock of 200,000 tons should be maintained to meet the country’s requirement for the Rabi 2017-18 crop sowing season.
The secretary pointed out that November and December 2017 were the peak months for urea demand, but demand would go down in January and February 2018.
To support his viewpoint, the Commerce Division secretary claimed that sufficient urea stock was available in the country for crop plantations.
On his part, the Planning Division secretary underlined the need for enhancing urea production to cater to the demand from farmers. The prime minister noted that contrary to the previous year, the country’s urea production had increased considerably in 2017 following imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to run fertiliser and other industries and now surplus urea was being exported.
Saying that Sri Lanka was interested in purchasing 76,000 tons of urea from Pakistan, he directed the Commerce Division to make necessary arrangements for shipment to the island nation.
He agreed on extending the deadline for exports from October 31, 2017 to February 28, 2018 and instructed that urea being produced with the help of imported LNG must be exported.
The Commerce Division revealed that against the approved quantity of 600,000 tons, only 41,000 tons remained to be exported.
In the Fertiliser Review Committee, which met on December 15, 2017, the Commerce Division sought views of stakeholders about allowing the export of the remaining 41,000 tons. Many of them expressed reservations about the proposal, suggesting that it was not safe to extend the timeline for exports during the ongoing Rabi sowing season.
However, the Ministry of Industries and Production later clarified that the 41,000 tons stuck at the port since October 31, 2017 were not part of the strategic reserves. It requested the Commerce Division to approach the ECC to seek an extension in the deadline up to February 10, 2018.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2018.
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