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Dec 20, 1999

  1. International
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Sui gas extension projects

A comprehensive plan has been worked out for the extension of sui gas supply to Kalat and Ziarat through 344.860 kms pipeline at an estimated cost of Rs 593.306 million for meeting industrial, commercial and domestic requirements in central and northern Balochistan.

Agriculture incomes to be taxed: Musharraf

The Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, on Wednesday announced sweeping reforms aimed at reviving the economy by winning back investors' confidence in the immediate run, making the country self-reliant in the medium term and ensuring that the fruits of economic development reached the common man.

In a major departure from the past, he proposed to ensure that agriculture incomes were taxed on the same lines as incomes from other sources were taxed. In this connection, he directed the provincial governments to design "appropriate mechanisms" to be introduced in June, 2000.

In another unprecedented move, the Chief Executive announced a voluntary cut in defence budget to the tune of Rs7 billion for its contribution towards the small public works programme fund of Rsl5-20 billion for taking in hand development projects in the poorest and low-income urban and rural areas.

He announced an ad hoc monthly relief of Rsl00 for employees in BPS-1 to 16 from Jan 1, 2000, to compensate them for the recent increase in fuel prices. The private sector is expected to grant a similar relief.

He said his government would establish a 'Micro Credit Bank' for enhancing the access of poor people to credit.

He promised to allow tax evaders to whiten their black money on the payment of a 10 per cent tax. The amnesty will be available until March 31, 2000.

In the coming years, he said, his government would focus on revitalizing the agriculture sector, promoting small and medium-scale industries, encouraging oil and gas exploration and development, developing information technology, tax reforms and poverty alleviation.

Identifying the fundamentals of the problems for the sorry state of economy, Gen Musharraf said that firstly the country spent more than what its resources permitted and secondly "we, as people, imported more than what we exported".

319,681 tons sugar produced

Pakistan Sugar Industry has produced 319,681 tonnes of sugar till November 30 last.

According to Pakistan Sugar Mills Association's latest report, Punjab sugar mills have produced 96,131 tons out of which 38,559 tons was sold in local market, Sindh mills produced 209,150 tons out of which 111,199 tons was sold in local market and rest of 97,950 tons is available with mills, NWFP produced 14,399 tons of sugar till November 30.

Sugar mills have produced 319,681 tons of sugar at the end of November 30,1999 and 149,840 have been disposed of in the domestic markets while around 169,840 tons is lying with various mills throughout the country.

The mills have also available previous stocks of sugar.

Sugar mills had started their crushing season 1999-2000 from November 1, in Sindh and from November 15, in Punjab and NWFP.

Economic growth sluggish in July-Sept '99

Economic activities in the country continued to show sluggish growth during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July to September 1999).

A growth of 4.53 per cent industrial production in the last quarter apparently looks impressive when compared to an increase of 2.84 per cent in same period in 1998 but is deceptive because it is mainly due to one sector and that is tractor industry.

The State Bank's annual report for 1998-99 released on Tuesday covers the economic performance during the first quarter of 1999-2000 notes that out of 24 industries the growth in tractor manufacturmg was 1.56 per cent.

"The growth in 23 remaining industries showed an increase of 1.77 per cent which is lower than the growth of 1.83 per cent recorded during the same period last year in spite of economic sanctions" the SBP report observes. It attributes the unusual growth in tractor manufacturing to the demand generated by the government's scheme involving heavy subsidy.

297 industrial units closed

Out of about 700 industrial units set up in the three major industrial estates of NWFP 297 have closed down according to officially maintained figures of the Sarhad Development Authority (SDA).

In accordance with a set of documents of SDA, the worst hit among the three major industrial estates of the province is Gadoon Amanzai Industrial Estate (GIE) with the total of non-functional units standing at 134 against 87 operational units which, according to SDA sources, are not very competitive in comparison with industries set up in other parts of the country and NWFP.

The GIE lost attraction for the industrialists after the first Benazir Bhutto government given incentive package was withdrawn by the 1990 Nawaz Sharif government.

Copper mine discovered at Chagai

Chagai joint venture undertaken by the Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) of Australia and Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) of Pakistan has led to the discovery of a mine at Rekodiq near Chagai brightening prospects for exploitation of 16.54 billion Ibs copper products.

According to data made available here on Saturday, current project resource has been estimated at 1.296 billion tons with gold grade of 0.35 grams/ton and copper grade of 0.5 per cent copper. It has average stripping ratio of 4.1. The project life spans well over 25 years. Besides gold and copper, other associated metals likely to be available from the project are lead, zinc, silver, platinum group metals, iron and molybdenum.

Industrial policy

Industrial policy of the new setup would focus on the country's potential of hydel power and agro-based industries, provincial minister for industries, commerce and mineral development Owais Ghani said. During a meeting with the industrialists of the Industrial Estate Peshawar, the minister said that work on the preparation of industrial policy had been initiated and the same would shortly be introduced with main focus on the hydel power and agriculture sectors.

He persuaded the local industrialists to come forward and make investments and help the government in creating a congenial industrial environment in the country for encouraging foreign investment.