Farmers end sit-in after assurances
LAHORE: The Kissan Board Pakistan protest, which kept The Mall blocked for entire evening on Wednesday, ended by 7pm when Punjab Agriculture Minister Farrukh Javed arrived on the scene to announce success of negotiations with the farmers.
A few hundred farmers belonging to the KBP braved the morning downpour to converge on the Faisal Square on The Mall around 11am. They, however, did not block the road and kept their sit-in confined to sideways of the thoroughfare.
The KBP had announced the sit-in for forcing the government to rescue farmers by “making the sector viable – by bring the cost of production down and ensuring better marketing and research in the sector.”
The minister held some two-hour negotiations with the KBP leaders to convince them to disperse. The minister assured the farmers that the government had plans to abolish GST on inputs in stages. It has already withdrawn the tax on pesticides, reduced it from 43 to nine per cent on machinery and from 17 to 5pc on Urea. “More reductions will follow in due course of time,” he told growers, adding the government was committed to improve farmers lot and was spending Rs80 billion on their welfare project.
The minister, who was also joined by the provincial cane commissioner, assured steps for timely payment to sugarcane growers and provision of irrigation supplies as per entitlement in all areas of the province. Both secretaries – agriculture and irrigation – were also present on the occasion. All problems regarding double taxation would be referred to the finance department and the Board of Revenue.
After all these assurances, the farmer leaders decided to call their sit-in off and cleared the road.