LAHORE – Punjab agriculture minister Malik Ahmad Ali has said that the black marketers of fertilizers would be dealt with iron hands.

Talking to media after holding a meeting, he blamed federal government for creating ‘artificial shortage’ which, he said, increased the prices by its hoarding.

A statement said that the minister issued special instructions to concerned authorities to take action against hoarders without any discrimination.

“707 FIRs have been registered against the illegal hoarders of fertilizers and imposed fine on them of worth Rs.16.773 million,” said Malik, regretting that increase in the prices of fertilizers had ruined the farmers. The federal government had hatched a conspiracy to defame Punjab government by delayed import and distribution of urea fertilizers and to benefit their relatives sitting in NFML, he held.

He said that when the present federal government took over charge in 2008, the price of urea fertilizer was Rs 660 per bag while that of DAP was Rs 2,100 per 50kg bag but due to the wrong policies of PPP-led government, the prices kept on increasing and today the prices of urea and DAP have reached Rs 1,810 and Rs 4,200 respectively. Ahmad Ali demanded immediate withdrawal of general sales tax on fertilizers and subsidy on gas or otherwise, surcharge be withdrawn fully. He said that due to lack of purchasing power, the farmers were using less fertilizer which would result in less production.