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Nov 15, 1999

  1. International
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Economic Advisory Board members named

The federal government has set up an Economic Advisory Board under finance minister Shaukat Aziz with 14 financial and economic experts to help chalk out policies for financial and economic turnaround.

The members of the board are: Syed Babar Ali, Dr Hafeez Pasha, Zafar A Khan, Manawwar Hameed, Shoaib Sultan Khan, Shahid Kardar, Jehangir Siddiqui, Arshad Zaman, Altaf Saleem, Bashir A. Mohammad, Shahid Haq, Abdullah J. Memon, Azam Farooqui and Aziz Looni.

Apart from these members, the federal ministers for petroleum, commerce, industries and production, food, agriculture, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and federal secretary finance would be on the board as informal members. Additional secretary finance would officiate as secretary of the board.

An official handout issued here Saturday says: The board shall identify issues afflicting the economy as well as factors responsible for the state of the economy. It shall offer practical solutions and recommend measures for important economic issues to be incorporated in the economic policy of the government.

The first meeting of the board will be held on November 15,1999. The federal government has been authorised to appoint more members of the board or change any of the members. The EAB's secretariat would be set up at the finance ministry.

The board has been assigned to point out shortcomings and contradictions in the present financial and economic system and policies and suggest remedial measures. The board has been authorised to create its auxiliary groups for different tasks it chooses to take on.

Tractor deliveries resumed

Manufacturers have decided to resume deliveries of tractors to the farmers within a week following clearance of outstanding amount by the Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP).

The bank has assured the tractor makers to release the outstanding amounts so that farmers can effectively produce better results, particularly in the wheat crop whose sowing is already underway.

Chief Executive, Millat Tractors, Sikandar M. Khan told that the ADBP chief, Fazle Mabood has informed me that the bank is releasing Rs250 million immediately out of total outstanding amount of Rs500 million.

New wheat varieties approved 

The federal government has approved five new high yielding and disease resistance wheat varieties for general cultivation and marketing purpose.

Names of these approved wheat variety are Mangla-99, Eagle-99, Iqbal-99, Margala-99 and Shaheen.

These varieties have been developed by farm breeders of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Wheat Research Institute, Faisalabad and Regional Agricultural Research Institute, Bhawalpur.

While, the approval of two new wheat varieties namely Wanhar-99 and Takbeer has been deferred till next meeting.

Earlier, the approval was given in a meeting of the Wheat Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) meeting held here the other day.

'Growers to lose Rs30bn on current cotton, rice prices'

Pakistan Peoples Party has warned that growers would suffer "enormous loss of Rs 30 billion, if cotton and rice prices are not improved through government intervention".

Cotton prices during PPP government were over Rs 1000 per maund while presently although price had been fixed at Rs 825, but the commodity finds only Rs 500 per maund in the market.

Likewise, rice support price was fixed at Rs 220 per maund, but the same is not fetching more than Rs 150 in the market which indicates to what extent agriculture sector has been "destroyed by the ousted Nawaz Sharif regime", maintained member PPP Central Executive Committee and former Federal Minister Nawab Yousuf Talpur.

Drought, canal closure may hit wheat crop

The target of wheat acreage of 8.5 million hectares has become elusive as the current wheat sowing is faced with the grim prospects of persistent drought in barani areas and closure of canals due to shortfall of 2.5 MAF of water in the Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs.

Water scarcity has threatened not only the wheat crop, but other crops including fodder and vegetables seem also to be in serious jeopardy.

The barani area constitutes around 17 per cent of the total wheat acreage and accounts for 12 per cent of the production which is close to 1.9 million tons. The cultivation of wheat in the barani areas has gained no momentum so far largely because of water scarciity.

Two oil exploration licences granted

Government on Saturday granted two petroleum exploration licences to joint venture, Paige Ltd (Paige, 80%), RDC International Ltd (RDC ,15%) and Government Holdings (5% carried) for exploration over Murgha Faqir Block No.3167-1 covering 7382 sq kms, in Loralai, Quetta and Pishin districts of Balochistan.

The other licence was granted to a joint venture of Pakistan Oilfields Ltd (POL, 95%) and Government Holdings (5% carried) over Khushalgarh Block No.3372-10 covering 703 sq. kms, in Attock and Chakwal districts of Punjab.

Simultaneously, Petroleum Concession Agreements were signed between the parties. These two blocks have been awarded through competitive bidding. Paige is the Operator of Murgha Faqir Zai Block whereas POL is the Operator of Khushalgarh Block.

Basmati procurement by PASSCO

PASSCO management under the direction of MINFAL has decided to intervene for ensuring support price fixed by the Government for Paddy growers of Punjab.

According to PASSCO sources such operation about IRRI-6 procurement in Sindh has already been launched.

Purchase centres have been established in Paddy producing areas of Punjab for achieving the fixed target i.e. 10 thousand tons Basmati SUPER and equal quantity of Basmati-385 at the rate pf Rs 425 per 40 kg and Rs 350 per 40 kg respectively.

As directed by MINFAL, PASSCO will not undertake the purchase of cotton/lint from the ginners / growers, as previously decided.