‘Middlemen to take benefit if private sector allowed to import urea’

Farmers cast urea fertilizer in a rice plantation on the expropriated and now redistributed farm of El Charcote in the central state of Cojedes October 14, 2010. El Charcote became a symbol of Chavez's socialist revolution when he sent soldiers to seize it in a 2005 push to break up major ranches and repopulate rural areas largely abandoned since Venezuela's oil industry took off in the 1920s. The government recently bought the last 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) of land on the farm, a vast cattle ranch that until 2005 belonged to one of Britain's wealthiest families, the Vesteys, and 130,000 cattle, part of a new drive by Chavez to increase state control of food in South America's top oil producer. Picture taken October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE)


Former FPCCI Standing Committee chairman Ahmad Jawad has emphasised that the decision to allow the import of urea by the private sector would open up a new window for the middlemen to charge commission.

Jawad criticised the decision of Finance Division and the Ministry of Petroleum to grant permission to allow urea import into the country. He also criticised Ministry of National Food Security and Research for framing the policy.

He insisted that private companies do not have the capacity to enforce a strict mechanism, hence the farming community will be negatively affected by the decision to allow the import of urea.

Jawad stressed that “importers will import urea on the existing international rates, and then add customs duty and other taxes and then dump it in their storage houses afterwards”.

At present, the country needs 6 million tonnes of urea annually. Local manufacturers produce 4.5 million tonnes while the remaining 1.5 million tonnes can easily be produced especially after the 15-year LNG import deal with Qatar.

Jawad said that the fertiliser has been the only sector in the country consuming gas for value addition, which is why it should be provided more gas.

He urged the government to negotiate with the local manufactures to fix reasonable rates of all the fertiliser products in order to facilitate the farmers and refrain from approving unjustifiable import policy in haste.