KARACHI: The announcement of Rs300,000 subsidy per tractor by the Sindh government has generated controversy more than goodwill in the province.
The provincial government scheme projected to subsidise 3,550 tractors through the Sindh Bank Limited on a first-come, first-served basis.
However, both farmer representatives and tractor makers complained of grave irregularities dismissing it as a move to reward cronies of political hierarchy in the province.
“The earmarked number of tractors was committed within hours of opening of the scheme much before a needy farmer can start the process of filing an application to avail the scheme,” a leader of farming community told Dawn.
Concurring with this assessment, Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) Chairman Sohail Bashir Rana said that all tractor makers were not treated fairly and manufacturing order was allotted to a company without merit. “How can a scheme mismanaged at this scale achieve targets? It hurts both tractor makers and users than help them,” he said.
Khalid Mehmood Khokhar, president of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI), said the “first-come, first-served” basis served pre identified beneficiaries.
He recalled last year’s tractor scheme was also mired in controversy when farmers complains surfaced accusing that 1,600 subsidised tractors had been distributed among influential politicians on the very first day of the launch. He demanded a proper balloting system after submission of applications from growers to ensure fairness, transparency and allow the scheme to achieve targets of facilitating poor farmers.
He also expressed surprise over the selection of a small tractor maker whose market share is minimal.
According to PAMA figures for July-March 2015-16, Fiat (New Holland) and Millat (Massey Ferguson) sold 7,947 and 13,534 units, respectively, while Orient IMT sold only 688 units.
Mr Khokhar said the choice of tractor should be left to farmers so that they could select the machine based on performance, after-sales service and the regional service network of a particular brand.
The Sindh government, he said, should prove that its scheme is transparent and fair by giving option to consumer with regards to purchasing of tractors.
Meanwhile, a representative of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s Hyderabad division visited Directorate Agriculture Engineering Sindh on April 15 and asked to provide information/document of the scheme “Provision of Assistance to the Farmers” on purchase of 11,000 wheel type tractors Phase III regarding copy of the memorandum of understanding signed with the Sindh Bank Ltd during current year and copies of advertisement appeared in newspapers on the same date for providing subsidy/assistance to farmers.