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Kinnow Exports Hit Register High At 370,000 Tons

Pakistan’s kinnow exports touched a record high at 370,000 tons in the 2017-18 season, up 45,000 tons compared to shipments of 325,000 tons in previous year, according to data compiled by the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA).

Kinnow exports in the 2017-18 season were estimated to have fetched $222 million. Exports of the citrus fruit commenced in December 2017 and continued till the beginning of May 2018.

“The export volume of kinnow this season has been the highest ever during any season,” commented PFVA Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed.

An excellent crop of kinnow in Pakistan and low production by major producers like Morocco contributed to higher exports from Pakistan to the Russian market.

Waheed, who is also vice-president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), said the FPCCI played an important role in enabling the PFVA to take exports to the record peak by raising the issue of unrealistic high valuation of Pakistani kinnow in the Russian market. Now, the Russians are willing to reduce the valuation.

Meanwhile, efforts were also made by the PFVA against the quota imposed by the Indonesian government on the import of Pakistani kinnow. The Indonesian government has now withdrawn the quota system.

PCJCCI Gives Preferential Status By Chinese Embassy

The Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) has been given preferential status by the Chinese embassy in Pakistan with regard to visa issuance for its members.

In a statement on Wednesday, PCJCCI President SM Naveed recalled that during a recent meeting with a delegation of the chamber, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing was requested to grant preferential treatment to PCJCCI’s recommendations for issuing visas to Pakistani businessmen, which would support efforts aimed at promoting bilateral trade and investment. “The ambassador was confident that enhanced communication and frequent exchange of trade delegations between the two countries will prove to be highly beneficial for mutual prosperity and economic development,” he said.

They also discussed the forthcoming visit of a delegation to Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu comprising PCJCCI executive committee members, which could be utilised for business matchmaking and meetings with business counterparts.

Furniture-Makers Plan To Commence Outlets In Saudi Arabia

A three-member senior delegation of the Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) left for Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on a three-day visit to explore potential in the kingdom’s furniture industry and market.

It will visit different cities including Jeddah for opening outlets of Pakistani handmade world-class furniture brands in order to set a foothold in overseas markets, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

Prior to the departure, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq said Saudi Arabia was a big market for Pakistani furniture producers as there was a massive potential for expanding trade because Pakistani handmade traditional furniture was in high demand in international markets.

PAK Fails To Meet Cotton Sowing Target As Water Shortage Bites

Pakistan has missed cotton sowing targets, largely in Sindh, due to acute water shortage amid climate change.

The situation may lead to low cotton production compared to the target of 14 million bales in the next season (2018-19) as well.

Farmers have so far sown cotton seeds over 2.31 million hectares in the country that is around 22% short of the target of 2.95 million hectares as on June 1, according to government statistics.

“Water shortage did not let farmers plant cotton over the targeted area,” Planning Commission Food Security Consultant Dr Mohammad Ali Talpur told on Wednesday.

“Farmers need water at the time of sowing,” said Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) former chairman Mukhtar Ahmad Khan.

“It did not rain in March and April, which usually happens almost every year. Resultantly, water flow remained absent from canals and did not let farmers sow seeds over the targeted area.”

According to the statistics, farmers in Sindh have cultivated cotton seeds over around 50% (0.29 million hectares) of the targeted area of 0.62 million hectares. The sowing season in the province has yet to end.

“Sindh completes cotton sowing by the end of June. It is estimated to cover 80-85% of the target,” Talpur said.

The sowing season in Punjab had, however, been completed in mid-May, he said. The statistics suggested that the province cultivated seeds over an area of 2.01 million hectares against the target of 2.31 million hectares.

Khan, however, added that the sowing situation was as poor in Punjab as it was in Sindh.

It suggests that the county will continue to face shortfall in cotton output this year too.

The government has set the target of producing 14 million bales (of 170 kg each) in the 2018-19 cotton season.

In the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the country could produce only 11.5 million bales against the target of 14 million bales.

FBR To Miss Tax Collection Target By Rs84 Bn

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) admitted on Wednesday that it may at best collect Rs3.85 trillion in taxes, indicating massive revenue leakages despite getting substantial bonanza following rupee depreciation, higher regulatory duty and petroleum product prices.

The FBR’s top brass told new caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar that revenue collection would fall short of the revised target of Rs3.935 trillion, according to officials.

Akhtar chaired a meeting to review performance of the FBR in the current fiscal year 2017-18.

The expected revenue collection of Rs3.85 trillion will be Rs162 billion lower than the original target and Rs84 billion less than the revised target that the PML-N government set hardly a month ago.

Parliament had approved a Rs4.013-trillion tax collection target for the outgoing fiscal year. However, due to persistent shortfall, the just-ended government lowered the target by Rs78 billion to Rs3.935 trillion last month.

The anticipated collection of Rs3.85 trillion will be higher by roughly Rs490 billion or 14.5% than the receipts of previous fiscal year.

In order to boost collection, the FBR had taken additional revenue measures of more than Rs150 billion including the imposition of regulatory duty. Secondly, the positive impact of 10% depreciation of the rupee on tax collection was a minimum Rs55 billion, according to FBR officials.

Thirdly, the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 10% (inflation plus real GDP growth) should have yielded an additional Rs336 billion in taxes.

The combined effect of these factors should have been Rs540 billion, which suggests revenue leakages. The higher tax collection on the sale of petroleum products due to increase in their prices was in addition to the above factors.

The FBR told the finance minister that release of Rs33 billion in sales tax refund on the last day of May would hit revenue collection. However, these refunds had been blocked in the past to inflate revenues. The FBR’s internal assessment revealed that even after paying Rs33 billion in refunds, it still owes refunds of Rs300 billion. It has also taken Rs150 billion in advance income tax to meet its quarterly targets, said the officials.

From July through May of the current fiscal year, the FBR has recorded provisional net revenue collection of Rs3.274 trillion.

The finance minister directed the FBR chairman to make all possible efforts to achieve the revenue target this year.

Akhtar stressed the need for improving the tax-to-GDP ratio in order to fund development projects, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Chief Calls For Giving Kalabagh Dam’s Control To Sindh

While voicing concern over the country’s low water storage capacity that has sparked a crisis, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman has proposed that operational control of the controversial Kalabagh dam should be handed over to Sindh in order to address reservations about its share in water consumption.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources, chaired by Senator Shamim Afridi, Wapda chief Muzzamil Hussain said Pakistan had a water storage capacity for only 30 days of consumption whereas India had reserves for 170 days.

“Kalabagh dam should be built with consensus of all political parties,” he emphasised. “Reservations of Sindh are justified and operations of Kalabagh dam should be handed over to the province if the dam is built.”

He pointed out that Sindh had reservations that Punjab would consume its water share from the dam.

Senator Gianchand pointed out that there was no political consensus on building the Kalabagh dam, therefore, no discussion should be held on the subject.

Senator Quratulain Marri said the inter-provincial Council of Common Interests (CCI) failed to reach consensus on building the dam, therefore, the project was abandoned.

The Wapda chairman underscored the need for arriving at a political consensus for building mega dams and setting the price of water.

He estimated that 25 million acre feet of water was being wasted every year because of lack of storages. Tarbela Dam has so far lost its 30% water storage capacity.

He opposed the planting of sugarcane crop that required excessive water and suggested that only those crops should be cultivated that needed low water supply.

He revealed that 50% of water was being wasted in the agriculture sector, adding a telemetry system installed in Punjab for calculating and restricting water consumption had been destroyed.

The situation was the same in Sindh as well, members of the committee said, where water was being wasted while planting different crops.

Hussain said water storage capacity of Tarbela and Mangla dams had gone down with the passage of time.

Citing India’s example, he said the neighbour had built 943 dams to store water for 170 days whereas Pakistan had 155 small and big dams with storage capacity for only 30 days. Calling water theft a big challenge, he underlined the need for building mega dams to enhance the country’s water storage capacity.

According to the Wapda chairman, 260,000 tube wells are running in the country that have reduced ground water levels.

Pointing out the difficulties faced in initiating construction work on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Hussain said allocated land for the dam was on the boundaries of both Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Whenever Wapda officials tried to start construction, people from both sides resorted to gunfire and so far 12 Wapda employees had lost their lives, he said.

So far, the government has given Rs80 billion in compensation to the people of these regions but, according to Hussain, both regional governments were not cooperating.

He regretted that a workable plan for shifting population from the dam site was not made in 2006 and a plan designed by Wapda in that regard was not accepted.

He pointed out that roads were being built across the country, but no work had been started on a 150km road that would connect Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The Wapda chairman suggested that the Indus Waters Treaty had some weak points, so efforts were required to improve the agreement. He asked the government to adopt an aggressive policy and make the treaty part of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Saying that the situation of Indus Water Commission was very poor, he urged the government to take initiatives for bringing improvement in it.

The Wapda chairman revealed that 921 appointments were made in the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) on political grounds in violation of the merit policy that destroyed the engineering firm. He called for stopping such hiring to ensure efficiency and smooth working.

He was of the view that Pakistan had a dearth of consultants and they were compelled to hire services of foreign firms.

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