. .

Oct 02 - 08, 2000

GDP grows by 4.9% in 1999-00

Pakistan GDP recorded a growth of over 4.9 per cent in fiscal year July/June 1999-00 meeting the target set by the government for the year. In fiscal 1998-99, GDP growth was only about 3.2 per cent.

A source close to ministry of finance said the revised estimate of GDP growth had come under discussion with the IMF in recently-concluded talks for seeking fresh loans from the Fund.

Earlier the economic survey for 1999-00 released on June 15 had put GDP growth at 4.5 per cent based on provisional economic data.

The third quarterly report of the State Bank released on May 8 had also predicted GDP growth of 4.4 per cent for fiscal 1999-00.

But the reason why the actual growth turned out to be around five per cent is that wheat production went up to 21.095 million tonnes in final estimates up from provisional estimates of 19.272 million tonnes.

Officials say higher production of wheat combined with a bumper cotton crop also led to a 7.1 per cent growth in agricultural sector in final estimates up from 5.5 per cent shown in the economic survey on the basis of provisional estimates. The target for agricultural growth was set at 4.3 per cent for fiscal 1999-00.

And in fiscal 98-99 actual growth in agricultural sector was very low i.e. 1.9 per cent.

Wheat production of 21 million tonnes in fiscal 1999-00 showed 18.3 per cent increase over the 98-99 production of 17.85 million tonnes. Similarly cotton crop of 11.24 million bales in 1999-00 was about 28 per cent higher than 8.79 million bales in 98-99. Rice production also rose 10.3 per cent to 5.16 million tonnes in 99-00 from 4.7 million tonnes in the preceding year.

But production of sugarcane the fourth major crop fell 16 per cent to 46.3 million tonnes in 99-00 from 55.19 million tonnes in fiscal 98-99.

Officials say growth in industrial sector was recorded at 2.39 per cent in fiscal 99-00 against 4.9 per cent in the previous year.

Only 42 file ITRs under SAS

Dismal results are coming out of the Self Assessment Scheme (SAS) as up to Sept 27 (Wednesday) only 42 returns were filed by taxpayers in the Southern Region of Income Tax.

Official sources disclosed on Thursday that the revenue effect from 42 returns filed under SAS is also of nominal impact at Rs 0.224 million.

Against this, last year's SAS during the corresponding period attracted a very large number of taxpayers who were in hundreds and revenue collection was also sizable at around Rs 20 million.

The sources said that up to Sept 27, about 170 returns were received under normal tax law for non-salary cases having revenue effect up to Rs 1.5 million only. Similarly, about 5,000 salary cases were filed giving a revenue effect of Rs 1 million.

Package for coal marketing

Pakistan Railways have announced special transport package for marketing Balochistan coal to Punjab and NWFP.

According to Coalmine Owners Association, the package was to save coal industry from crisis due to double taxation.

The COA said that this double taxation of 18 per cent GST on coalmining and fixed rate GST on brick kilns, by the previous govt, has caused slow death to 1000 years old Balochistan's main coalmining industry. The COA said the cost of transportation from Balochistan to Punjab and NWFP have dealt a severe blow to the coalmining industry.

SHYDO short lists four firms

The Sarhad Hydel Development Organization (SHYDO) has short listed four firms in the pre-qualification of contractors' process for the execution of the multi-million dollar, provincial public-sector Malakand-III hydro electricity project, official sources said.

Over 10 firms, with their principle foreign firm, had applied under the pre-qualification process for the execution of the provincial public-sector Malakand-III hydro electricity project.

Initially five firms had been short listed. These included NESPAK, ACE, BAK (Peshawar), NDC and Sweeco (a Swedish firm).

Wheat deal proving costlier to Sindh

The forced deal of one million tons of wheat purchase from Punjab is proving costlier to the Sindh government as well as the consumers.

For the Sindh government, the deal worth Rs8.3 billion will cost over Rs500 million interest charges and about Rs2 billion in transportation, handling and stocking of the commodity which is being brought from far-off places in central Punjab. In final counts, Sindh will have to provide at least Rs1.5 billion subsidy. Financial analysts, however, believe that this projection will even exceed Rs2 billion because of rising fuel prices.

IMF seeks end to subsidy on wheat

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the government to concentrate on key structural issues as its external sector remains fragile and foreign exchange reserves have continued to decline from already low levels.

Informed sources told that the government had been asked to remove remaining subsidy on wheat and ensure early restructuring of the Central Broad of Revenue (CBR), the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation (KESC), the Pakistan Railways, nationalized commercial banks (NCBs) and Development Financial Institutions (DFIs).

Lint cotton price raised

The federal government, on Monday, increased the lint cotton price by Rs65 per 40kg, from Rs1,935 per 40kg to Rs2,000.

The new price is to remain effective till October 2, when the government will review its rates again.

Contrary to cotton growers' expectations, the government did not fix the new prices for "phutti" on account of the raise announced in lint cotton.

Oil, gas sector to be privatized

The federal government is systematically moving towards privatization of the oil and gas sector. This would entail restructuring of gas prices, Federal Petroleum Secretary Abdullah Yousaf said on Sunday while speaking at a symposium at the Third South Asia Geological Congress.