25th Feb, 2006: ISLAMABAD - The government may consider granting an incentive package for the poultry industry, which is facing another wave of losses due to the fear of an outbreak of bird flu in the country, a senior government official told the Daily Times.
Though the initial response of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) to a tax holiday for income from poultry and considerable reduction in indirect taxes included in the proposed package is discouraging, the government is seeking the viewpoint of all the stakeholders, including that of the CBR, for the last time to finalize the package.
"Not even a single case of bird flu has been reported from anywhere in Pakistan. But the media hype and cases of bird flu in regional countries and Europe have started putting negative impact on the local market," Khalid Saleem, former president of the Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA), told the Daily Times.
The sale of poultry and poultry products had dropped. The prices had already witnessed a decline of 20-25 percent, he said.
He said the PPA had already decided to take every possible measure to prevent the avian influenza virus. All necessary steps had been taken, added Mr Saleem, who now heads the PPA's consumer education board.
Recently, the PPA presented to the government a package asking the authorities to consider the package for approval to attract more investment in the poultry sector. The PPA said two factors had badly affected the poultry sector, said the government official.
The first one was in the form of wedding meal ban in 1997, and second, in early 2004 in the form of scare of bird flu.
The ban on wedding meal resulted in a loss of 30 percent poultry meat while indirectly the production had registered a decline of around 40 percent due to the ban. Keeping this in view, the PPA asked the government to exempt the poultry sector from income tax for at least 10 years. This will encourage fresh investment in the sector.
The association was critical of the electricity tariff. The poultry industry suffered huge losses as the Water and Power Development Authority charges the farms on commercial basis. The PPA is demanding agricultural tariff of electricity. The commercial rates of electricity were the highest and charging the poultry under these rates was unjustified, the official said.
The package also called for duty and sales tax free import of pre-fabricated poultry houses as the poultry sector was one of the major affectees of the October 8, 2005 devastating earthquake.
The PPA has also been seeking for duty-free import of quality poultry feed raw materials, grandparent and parent stock chicks.