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POLICY

Jan 17 - 23, 2000

  1. International
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Government to announce cotton policy by March

The federal government will announce Cotton Policy by March next, two months ahead of the sowing of year 2000 cotton crop.

"Federal Agriculture Minister Shafqat Ali Jamote acceded to our demand for the formulation of a cotton policy," Chief Executive of Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP), Malik Afaq Tiwana told pressmen after 72nd Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the organization at Lahore Press Club (LPC) here Thursday.

Tiwana said that the policy would provide for the exports of the surplus cotton to avert 1999 like price crisis. He said that government had also agreed to consider the issue of enhancing credit for the agriculture sector.

He said that there was need of at least Rs 100 billion loans for the agriculture sector against the existing level of Rs 40 billion.

State Bank governor briefed on ADPB

The Governor, State Bank Dr Ishrat Hussain was briefed on operational aspects and working of the bank during his visit to Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan on Wednesday.

A press release of the ADBP said that the governor was also apprised about the future plans and various proposals to be adopted by the bank's management aiming at improving the efficiency of the bank, recovery of over dues, strategy for revival of sick units etc by the acting chairman Feroze Bashir Ansari.

Move to stabilize sunflower prices

Federal Food and Agriculture Secretary, Dr. Zafar Altaf has said that the government would take every possible step to ensure that the Sunflower growers get reasonable price for the produce.

Ministry of Agriculture has sent a summary to the Government of Pakistan regarding steps to help stop the prices of the imported edible oil from falling below a particular level and ensure due return to the sunflower growers, he told. The sowing of the Sunflower crop which began on January 1, is likely to be completed by February 15. The area-wise target is 0.5 million hectares.

Natural gas regulatory authority established

The government on Monday promulgated an ordinance seeking establishment of Natural Gas Regulatory Authority (NGRA), in a major legislative step towards the privatization of two major gas distribution companies of the country.

The NGRA bill, which has finally been promulgated through an ordinance under the provision of proclamation of October 14,1999, and provisional constitutional order, had been pending before the suspended parliament for the last several years.

The delay in creation of NGRA had stalled the whole privatization programme of Sui Northern and Sui Southern gas pipeline companies, which has been on cards for the last a decade.

The privatization commission of Pakistan despite its best efforts could not get the law passed in the previous Muslim League government as certain vested interests were not in favour of privatization of the two major gas distribution companies.

The authority, comprising a chairman and two members— designated as member, technical, and member, finance—will have the exclusive powers to issue licenses and regulate gas distribution activity in the country. The authority, keeping consumers interests supreme, will also prescribe, review, approve and regulate tariffs, the ordinance said.

IMF team delays visit

A five-member IMF review mission has delayed its schedule for a couple of days, which was expected to arrive here on Tuesday.

Sources in the multilateral agencies said that the mission, to be headed by Ms Sena Eken, was likely to arrive here this week.

Microsoft offers discounts

Microsoft has announced drastic discounts for students and teachers, to contribute to the growth and development of nascent IT market in Pakistan. "Microsoft has a commitment to the academic community, which are producing IT (Information Technology) leaders for the future," said Microsoft Business Development Manager in Pakistan, Kamran Iqbal. The copies of Microsoft Office 2000 Professional are now available to Pakistani students and institutions at a price of Rs. 4,900 compared to the worldwide price of over Rs 25,000, under the company's Student Licensing Scheme.

Shaukat urges expansion of manufacturing

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has urged the Industrial sector to expand its manufacture base and pay tax due without reservations.

He met three delegations of the pottery, textile and cigarette sectors and assured their members of the solution to problems faced by these industries.

An official press release issued Thursday says: A delegation of All Pakistan Pottery Manufacturing Association, led by its president Haji Nasir Mehmood, met with the finance minister and discussed problems faced by the industry. The minister urged the members to expand the industrial base as 'the cottage industry always plays a vital role in the development of economy.'

The delegation was assured of the solution to their problems and all possible assistance in this connection.

Punjab may cut expenses by Rs8-10bn next fiscal

Financial wizards in the Punjab are striving to formulate a plan which they hope will cut the province's annual non-development expenditure between Rs8bn to Rs10bn in the next fiscal year.

Planning pundits of the province are believed to have reached the conclusion to merge various government departments and organs in a bid to reduce the overall size of the public sector.

"The merger holds the key to success of our strategy. If number of government departments is reduced, the province will definitely see a substantial reduction in its annual recurring expenditure" senior government officials closely attached to the new plan told.