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Jun 26 - Jul 02, 2000

Rs65 billion Sindh budget

A record development programme of almost nine billion rupees as a component of about Rs65bn provincial budget is being presented on Wednesday by the Sindh Governor Mohammad Mian Soomro at a press conference at the new Sindh Secretariat Building.

For this massive ADP, the federal government would offer a loan assistance of Rs2.26bn in the coming fiscal year. The Sindh government is expected to generate resources of almost seven billion rupees to finance the ADP in the coming fiscal year.

Budget makers in Sindh are pinning hopes in the highly optimistic presumptive allocation of Rs49.55bn for their province in the federal budget for 2000-2001. The federal government is looking for a total revenue collection of about Rs437bn next year out of which 32.5% or Rs149.92bn has been given to the provinces. Out of this, Sindh's share in the divisible pool is Rs34.90bn, a little over 23%.

Another sum of Rs14.65bn has been indicated for Sindh as direct transfers on account Sindh's share of royalty, surcharge and excise duty on gas and oil and also the provincial share in the new Services tax being introduced from the next fiscal year.

The federal government has apparently turned down Sindh government's plea to give the entire collected amount of services tax on 16 services to the provinces from where it is collected after deducting four per cent collection charges. Instead, the federal government has indicated 23% of Rs6.86bn service tax amounting to Rs1.59bn to Sindh.

The Sindh ADP is expected to provide token amounts for the Northern Bye Pass and Bulk Water supply scheme in Karachi. These programmes may be offered to the private sector either on Buy-Own-and-Transfer (BOT) or Buy-Own-Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis.

No new taxes in Balochistan budget

Governor Amirul Mulk Mengal on Monday presented a surplus and tax-free budget of Rs25.613 billion for the financial year 2000-2001 on national hookup.

Total revenue receipts are expected to be about Rs26.66 billion out of which Rs17.75 billion have been earmarked for current expenditures and Rs7.85 billion for public sector development programme (PSDP). The figures show a surplus amount of Rs1.05 billion.

The provincial government would make internal financing of Rs 3.08 billion during the next financial year. The Poverty Alleviation Programme will continue to be a high priority area with an allocation of two billion rupees.

With the financing in PSDP and PAP, the total outlay of the current budget would be Rs22.84 billion. An amount of Rs971 million will be left at the disposal of the provincial government.

Hi-tech industry exempted from duty

Hi-tech industry has been exempted from whole of customs duty as per an announcement made here on Tuesday by Central Board of Revenue.

SRO 369(I)/2000, dated June 17, 2000, allows exemption on import of process control equipment/systems; power tools, pneumatic tools; powder metallurgical industry and manufacture of alloys and stainless steel; information technology; solar technology/solar cell industry; aerospace; defence production; hermetical sealed (HS) technology; oil refining (mineral)/ hydrocracking and other value-added petroleum products.

Total exemption from customs duty has also been allowed under the SRO to the following value-added industry attaining a minimum value addition of 40 per cent of production value to be determined by Engineering Development Board, National Tariff Commission, CBR, Board of Investment, ministry of industry, or, on export of minimum average 50% of its production in the first 10 years: leather; textile; footwear; surgical and sports goods; carpets; electronics; soft/stuffed and battery toys; frozen concentrated citrus juices; seafood industry; mining or value-added mineral processing; any industry other than indicated here also shall be entitled to same facility provided it fulfils the criteria.

Panjgur power plant starts production

The 45-MW Panjgur Power House has started production with the completion of its construction with a total cost of Rs1.5 billion. The Quetta Electric Supply Company (QUESCO) said here on Thursday that the Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf would formally inaugurate the project shortly.

The test transmission from the unit was conducted on June 17 without load after which power supply to the entire town was started successfully. Following the completion of work related to feed back transmission, electric supply to the entire Makran division from the unit would begin in a few days, the company said.

Sharjah, SITE accord

Free Zone Authority of Sharjah and SITE Association of Industry on Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement to increase relations among the industrialists, businessmen and entrepreneurs of the two countries.

90% cotton growing on target

Apprehensions that the cotton crop of Punjab may not meet the sowing target of 5.6 million acres have been allayed by officials as "cultivation has been 90 per cent on target so far".

A Punjab government official told that most areas in the cotton belt of the province had almost reached their targets. In comparison with the sowing at this stage last year, they were only 'three per cent behind".

The negative aspect has been contributed by the Bahawalpur Division which is trailing the target by ten per cent. Worst hit has been Rahim Yar Khan district, a prime producer of cotton which has a 20 per cent negative sowing, officials said.

The main reason for the low sowing performance of the area was "water shortage" which was affecting farmers. In Rahim Yar Khan, it was described as "extremely acute".