Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar inaugurated the 75th Plenary Meeting of International Cotton Advisory Committee at Islamabad today. Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan and Dr. Farrukh Javed, Minister for Agriculture, Government of Punjab were also present on the occasion.
Over 130 delegates from 29 countries are in Islamabad to participate in the ICAC meeting. Addressing the meeting, the Finance Minister warmly welcomed the delegates and said that Pakistan holds an important position in the global cotton industry as it is the 4th largest cotton producer, 3rd largest cotton consumer and 2nd largest cotton yarn exporter in the world. He highlighted that Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world which have an entire textile value chain that is sophisticated and well integrated.
Finance Minister said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif the government is addressing the concerns of the agriculture and farmer community as a top priority and is fully committed to introducing latest agriculture technologies. He said that in this regard important amendments in Seed Act of 1976 have been undertaken. Further, Plant Breeders Right Bill has already been passed from the National Assembly and would soon be placed in Senate. He noted that due to global recession commodity prices remained subdued and the government has facilitated the farmers by providing direct support of Rs. 40 billion to the small farmers under Prime Minister’s Agriculture package.
Giving an overview of the economy, Senator Dar said that during the current financial year, GDP growth was recorded at 4.71% which is highest in last eight years. He said that for FY 2017, the government has a target for GDP growth of 5.5%, and firmly believes that increased agriculture production, especially cotton crop, will help in achieving this target. He noted that the forecasts for this year’s cotton crop are very encouraging.
The Finance Minister highlighted the steps taken by the government to improve exports from Pakistan as part of the annual budgets of FY 2013-17. These include zero rating of sales tax regime for five export oriented sectors including textile, duty free import of machinery, payment of pending sales tax refunds to those RPOs which have been approved upto 30.04.2016, reduction in mark-up rate under Export Finance Scheme from 8.4% to 3% and reduction in mark-up rate under Long Term Finance Facility by 4%.
The Executive Director ICAC Mr. Jose Settespeaking at the inaugural session thanked the government of Pakistan for hosting the conference and appreciated the excellent arrangements made to facilitate the international delegates of International Cotton Advisory Committee to hold its 75th Plenary Meeting in Islamabad, from October 30 to November 4. He said that Pakistan was an important player in the cotton industry and ICAC members are grateful to government of Pakistan for hosting this most important event of the world cotton calendar and look forward to a fruitful and productive week of discussions.
The Finance Minister said that the topic of the ICAC meeting, “Enhancing Sustainability in Cotton Value Chain”, provides an ideal international platform to exchange ideas and develop policy guidelines. The inaugural session was attended by Secretaries of Federal government Divisions, senior officials and representatives of the cotton growing and textile industry.