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Jul 10 - 16, 2000

Rs950m to improve industrial technology

The government has allocated a sum of Rs950 million to bring about technological intervention in the industries like textile, engineering, electronics, energy, ocean resources and biotechnology sector in the year 2000-2001.

The textile fabric sector has been allocated Rs150 million to improve its quality. The fund will be utilized to bring about uniformity in the finishing process in the textile sector to boost exports.

Sources said, besides this, a sum of Rs200 million has also been earmarked for the development of high yield, disease resistant and stress tolerant crop varieties.

On energy sector side, a sum of Rs0.15 billion has been allocated for energy resources assessment; exploration; utilization of indigenous low quality coal; development and adaptation of renewable energy resources vis solar, wind, and other alternate technologies; energy efficiency improvement and conservation, adoption of environmental control technologies.

For the promotion of electronic industry, the Commission will spend a sum of Rs150 million. The project activities will focus on silicon technology, design and development of communication satellite/ancillary ground equipment, optical instruments, establishment of electronics parks for promotion of the electronic industry.

For the development of pharmaceuticals industry, the Commission has allocated a sum of Rs150 million. Under the project, the Commission will undertake activities for the conversion of molasses to citric acid, alcohol etc and other products based on such fermentation processes.

For technological interventions in the engineering side, a sum of Rs200 million has also been allocated.

For the development of ocean resources, Rs150 million has been allocated.

13 industries show negative growth (Box)

Thirteen out of 37 industries under the federal government's jurisdiction registered negative growth in production during the period July-April, 1999-2000, according to information available from the ministry of industries & production on Friday.

A source in the ministry asserted that the growth rate of large-scale manufacturing sector minus sugar industry increased by over 6.6 per cent, higher than even that showed in the Economic Survey (4.6%). Overall growth rate of the sector inclusive of sugar became negligible (less than even 1 per cent).

This difference in growth figures was because of a high weightage (8.630) in the industrial index assigned to sugar by the Federal Bureau of Statistics using 1981-82 as benchmark, the source explained.

The quantity of sugar produced during the period under report was 24,14,000 tons, down a substantial 31.61 per cent from the corresponding period of last financial year. The decline in sugar production was attributable to shortage of sugarcane. Another factor was the closure of five sugar mills of Sindh, according to the source.

Lay-off in state units inevitable, says Ishrat

The State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussain declared on Tuesday that lay-offs and retrenchment in the public sector organizations and the government departments has become inevitable.

"It is an unsustainable situation," he pointed out while speaking on the subject "Current State and Future Challenges Facing Pakistan's Economy," at the Aga Khan University Campus on Tuesday, where he was invited to deliver the lecture. The former foreign minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan who is also a member of the governing board of the Aga Khan University was present in the university auditorium.

Overstaffing in the government, he made it clear, was one of the key factors that contributed towards the mounting expenditure of the budget and the growing fiscal deficit. The growing budget deficits over the years has led government to depend on the borrowing, from the domestic and foreign sources, and as he pointed out "we have reached a situation when the total income being generated by all the 140 million people of Pakistan in a year is equal to the total domestic and foreign debt liability".

Cotton crop area exceeds target in Punjab

The area under cotton crop in the Punjab for the year 2000 has exceeded the target by 3.37 per cent as so far 5.7 million acres have been brought under the crop against a set target of 5.6 million acres in the 26 cotton growing districts of the province.

The cultivation of crop for the year 2000 has also surpassed last year's sowing figures of 5.5 million acres.

Accord for gas exploration signed

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (P&NR) on Saturday signed an agreement with foreign exploration company, Lasmo, for developing Bhit gas field.

A spokesman of the ministry termed it major breakthrough in the previously stalled development of the newly discovered gas resources in the Kirthar range.

He hoped that it would pave the way for other producers to expedite the development of their discoveries namely Zamzama and Sawan.

The agreement called Head of Terms (HOT) with Bhit Joint Venture comprising LASMO Oil (40 per cent), Kirther Pakistan B.V (A subsidy of Premier Shell (40 per cent) and OGDC (20 per cent) was signed by Secretary P&NR Abdullah Yousaf, David Thomas, GM Premier Shell, Peter Cock Craft, Mukhtar Ahmed, MD SSGPL and Maj General Pervez Akmal, MD OGDC.

Surplus wheat stored

The Food Department has by now stored about one lakh metric tons of surplus wheat at it's procurement centres during the season. However the procurement target was 85,000 metric tons.

This was stated by the officials of the Sialkot Food Department at a meeting of District Agricultural Development Committee on Thursday.