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Oct 23 - 29, 2000

Plan to achieve 6% GDP growth finalized

The government has finalized a three-year macroeconomic framework that seeks to achieve 6% GDP growth rate in 2002-03 against a 4.5% GDP growth of 99-00.

A "Three Year Development Programme-2000-03", prepared by the Planning Commission which is expected to be approved by the cabinet also plans to reduce the present fiscal deficit of 6% to 3.5% of GDP by 02-03, based largely on tax/GDP ratio.

Investment requirements have been increased from 15% of GDP in the base year to 18% in the terminal year of the development programme. Keeping in view the privatized structure of the economy, nearly 2% of this incremental investment will have to come from the private sector and about 1% from the public sector.

Mobilization of savings for the incremental investment is an even more daunting task, but one necessary to give meaning to the objectives of self reliant growth.

In 99-00, national savings were 12.5% in an investment rate of 15%. But the terminal year of the three years perspective, the national saving rate will have to increase to 17.5% of GDP with only 0.5% of foreign savings. "To raise the rate of saving a wide ranging strategy is being prepared", says the three years development programme which has just been circulated to the provinces for comments.

Measures are in place to rationalize the tax culture to expand the tax base. The process will be reinforced by fiscal autonomy being envisaged under Local Government Plan 2000. As a result of the reforms and policy changes, corporate sector is expected to plough back its savings into new investment. Household savings will be encouraged by a climate of low inflation and positive real returns.

Monetary expansion will be kept in line with GDP nominal growth at 11.1% per annum. The current account deficit will be brought down from 2.5% of the GDP in the base year to 0.5% in 2003.

Bumper cotton crop expected this season

If phutti arrival from fields into ginners means anything, then it can be easily said that the country was going to harvest yet another bumper cotton crop this season.

Phutti arrival figures released by Pakistan Cotton Ginners' Association (PCGA) on Thursday, disclosed that up to Oct 15, 2.260 million bales reached ginneries, thereby, showing higher arrival by 41.72 per cent compared to corresponding period of last year.

"We may achieve 10 million bales production if current flow of phutti arrival continues up to middle of December when the first picking ends," a leading ginners said.

It is highly encouraging to note that despite water shortage which hit the lower Sindh in particular, the phutti arrival is higher by 21.17 per cent compared to corresponding period of last year.

PTCL launches prepaid card service

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) is all set to launch its prepaid card service on Friday. These cards could be operated from all PTCL digital telephones for making international and long-distance inter-city calls.

The PTCL has made plans for the distribution of the cards. They will be available everywhere in Pakistan, including petrol pumps, leading stores, shopping centres and Pakistan Telecommunication Company customers service centres.

The cards will be available in four denominations ie 250 (white), 500 (Blue), 1000 (Silver) and 2000 (Gold). After the successful launch and introduction of services like CLI, voice messaging, etc the Pakistan Telecommunication Company now plans to introduce the prepaid card service for the convenience of the general public.

Ammonia plant damaged

The reformer ammonia plant of the Pak-American Fertilizer Factory, Iskandarabad, was damaged in a blast on Tuesday night.

No loss of life has been reported so far.

Built at a cost of Rs12 billion with the help of a Japanese company, the plant was opened last year. Some factory workers, who did not want to be identified, put the blast damage at Rs3 billion. According to them, the explosion caused panic in the small town near Daudkhel.

Fertilizer off-take up

Fertilizer off-take has registered 14.4 per cent increase in Sindh and 7.66 per cent in Punjab during April to August as compared to corresponding period last year, Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) has disclosed.

In its latest report on cotton crop, PCCC said that off-take in Sindh was 282.10 thousands nutrient tons as compared to 233.88 thousand tons during the corresponding period last year showing an increase of 14.4 per cent.

Black-tea processing plant

Black-tea plant, having 1000 kg tea processing capacity per day, to be set up at National Tea Research Institute (NTRI) Shinkiari, Mansehra will become operational by April 2001.

"A deal has been finalized with China which will provide the processing plant in next three months," Director, NTRI, Dr. A. Rauf Khan said on Tuesday.

"The tea processing plant will be a pilot project and is expected to be operational before April, 2001," he added.

Musharraf, Aga Khan discuss tourism projects

The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, Prince Karim Aga Khan, held a meeting with Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf here on Monday.

The chief executive lauded the tremendous contribution of the various philanthropic and social development programmes being undertaken by Prince Karim Aga Khan worldwide, particularly in Pakistan.

Gen Musharraf thanked the Aga Khan for his invitation to preside over the convocation of the Aga Khan University which he would attend in Karachi later in the week, it was officially stated.

During the meeting tourism development in Northern Areas and various other aspects of socio-economic development also came under discussion.

Wheat target fixed

The government has fixed a production target of 22 million tons for wheat and 9.7 million cotton bales for next year.