Zero import duty unsuitable for domestic cotton production, says KCA chief

Days after the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) waived all duties and taxes on import of cotton, Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) Chairman Khawaja Muhammad Zubair on Monday said that the policy “favours the upstream industry at a loss to spinners and traders”.

Taking on the newly employed government policy in a wide-ranging interview, Zubair said that “if the purpose is to improve quality and yield, policy focus needs to shift towards productivity maximizing solutions such as mechanization, technical support, and improved irrigation”.

Zubair said that support to growers should be extended in the form of input subsidies, such as lower-priced electricity, fertilizer and pesticides. He recalled that previous governments followed a zero-sum approach of “taking from one and giving to another”.

“Even its application has been inconsistent based on which vested interest holds more sway at any given time,” he lamented.

Expressing fear that the agriculture growth rate may take a nosedive as a result of what he dubbed as the worst performance by the cotton sector, he said this season is the first in recallable memory when the crop estimate was revised down by 30 per cent in the very first CCAC’s meeting.

This is significant because Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) is a national forum which notifies a consensus estimate after exhaustive stakeholder consultations including public sector bodies such as Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, Federal Seed Certification & Registration Dept., Department of Plant Protection provincial crop departments, various grower associations and industry bodies such as PCGA, KCA, and APTMA.

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