FAILURES IN ECONOMIC POLICY CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO POOR ENVIRONMENT

'PROJECT FOR CONTROLLING ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION TO BE COMPLETED WITHIN 2-3 MONTH'

KANWAL SALEEM
Sep 22 - 28, 2008

Pakistan, like many countries, has relied mostly on command and control environmental policies, which have often failed because its regulatory institutions lack the resources to monitor compliance.

Pakistan would be better off using incentive or market-based policies, which use prices to encourage pollution abatement and the appropriate use of resources. Failures in economic policy contribute significantly to Pakistan's brown environmental problems, which include industrial and domestic wastewater pollution, as well as air pollution (especially from motor vehicle emissions). Pollution problems exist both in urban and industrial areas as well as in marine and coastal zone waters.

Failures in economic policy also contribute to green environmental problems, affecting behavior in forests, rangelands, and both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture.

The Government of Pakistan is following both short-term and long-term policies to protect the environment. The Government has formulated a plan to increase one percent forestation by 2015. "Under this plan, forests will be grown over one million acres of land," sources in the Ministry of Environment told PAGE.

According to them, increase in forestation will have positive impact on the living standards of the people. Effective measures are being taken to control environmental pollution while policies have been made to control deforestation and ensure sanitation.

Since dust, noise and cutting of trees have been identified as major issues pertaining to environment, mitigation measures like plantation of trees and control of dust and noise through onsite control techniques have been suggested.

Moreover, the government has decided to run 8000 CNG buses in major cities of the country. The decision was taken in view of increasing air pollution and fuel prices.

Sources said that all diesel driven vehicles, imported or locally manufactured, including trucks, buses and wagons will comply with Euro-II emission standards from July 1, 2012. The Ministry of Petroleum will make Euro-II compliant diesel (low sulphur) by end of year 2011.

Moreover, Punjab Government on the special instructions of Chief Minister, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, is evolving a comprehensive strategy for controlling pollution caused by emission of vehicles so that a healthy society could be created.

According to Shahbaz Sharif, the government is paying special attention to maintaining a pollution-free atmosphere, as it is essential for human health. A pollution-free atmosphere leaves a positive impact on the life of citizens, therefore, the government is taking solid measures for curbing environmental pollution.

Shahbaz said that three projects for controlling environmental pollution are under implementation and their completion will help maintain a pollution-free atmosphere. He said that a comprehensive strategy would be evolved in this regard after a joint meeting of transport and environment departments. He directed that a joint meeting of both the departments be convened as soon as possible and a comprehensive planning be evolved in this regard. The Chief Minister directed environment and transport departments to formulate comprehensive recommendations for curbing environmental pollution after taking a briefing.

Representative of a private institution concerned with environment, Azfar Burki said that he wants to establish 10 testing stations in Punjab for curbing pollution caused by the exhaust of vehicles. He said that fitness certificate will be issued to the vehicles plying on the roads for five years so that only road-worthy vehicles could be permitted to ply.

Secretary Environment informed that the on-going project for controlling environmental pollution caused by traffic with the cooperation of Germany would be completed within two to three months.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE

DISBURSEMENT OF RS29 BILLION IN TWO MONTHS

AMANULLAH BASHAR

The phenomenal rise in food prices all over the world has triggered the farmers community to take advantage of the situation by using every inch of land to produce more next year has resulted abnormal increase in loan demand as Rs29 billion disbursed in just two months.

This phenomenal growth in agriculture activity and lucrative prices of food grains attracting foreign investors in Pakistan ?fs agriculture sector. The growing interest of the farmers is likely to produce bumper wheat, rice and other grain crops in the coming kharif, sources said.

Disbursement of credit to the agriculture sector by commercial and specialized banks has increased 12.48 percent year?]on?]year to Rs 28.749 billion during the first two month (July-August) of the current fiscal year (2008-09).

Agricultural credit disbursement, in absolute terms, rose by Rs 3.19 billion in July-August period when compared with disbursement of Rs 25.559 billion during the same period of the last fiscal year (2007-08). Overall credit disbursement by five major commercial banks including Allied Bank Limited (ABL), Habib Bank Limited (HBL), MCB Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and United Bank Limited (UBL) stood at Rs 14.669 billion during July- August 2008 period, compared with Rs 14.022 billion during the same period of the last fiscal year, depicting an increase of Rs 0.647 billion or almost 5 per cent.

Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), the largest specialized bank, has disbursed Rs 5.838 billion in July-August 2008 period, compared with Rs 5.060 billion during the same period of the last fiscal year, while disbursement by Punjab Provincial Co?]operative Bank Limited (PPCBL) stood at Rs 0.713 billion in July-August 2008 period, compared with Rs 1.032 billion during same period last fiscal year. Besides, 14 domestic private banks (DPBs) also loaned a combined Rs 7.528 billion in July-August 2008 period, up 38.27 percent when compared with Rs 5.444billion disbursed in July-August 2007 period.

It may be recalled that the State Bank of Pakistan has set an indicative credit disbursement target of Rs 250 billion for the agriculture sector for the current 2008?]09 fiscal year (FY09) which is higher by Rs 50 billion or 25% than last fiscal year?fs target of Rs 200 billion and Rs 38 billion or 18% higher than the actual disbursement of Rs 212 billion in FY08.