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Nov 06 - 12, 2000

Sugar LCs for 85,400mt opened

Sugar millers in Punjab and Sindh upto October 23 have opened letters of credit (LCs) for the import of 85,400 metric tons of raw sugar, to be refined into white sugar.

On the other hand, private importers have so far opened letters of credit (LCs) for the import of 972,856 metric tons upto October 23, banking sources told on Tuesday.

The pace of opening of LCs by the millers showed some improvement despite increasing global prices of raw sugar so that the commodity could arrive in November, when all the Sindh mills would commence cane crushing. Till October 2, millers had opened LCs for the import of 56,300 metric tons.

Cane crushing in Sindh got underway, while other millers may follow the suit from November 1 to 3. Millers of Punjab and NWFP are expected to start crushing from November 15.

Sources in sugar industry said that the millers might face some problems in getting the sugarcane, as the growers were demanding increase in procurement prices to Rs60 per maund, while the government had fixed the price at Rs36 per maund.

Reports coming from Sindh revealed that growers forecast a further decline in sugarcane production in Sindh by at least 15- 20 per cent. There are total 73 mills in the country, of which 69 mills are functioning while four mills are closed.

On refined sugar, according to importers, over 500,000 metric tons have so far arrived in the last three to four months and LCs of over 200,000 metric tons have been cancelled by the importers due to rising global prices.

Sugar is also arriving in Lahore from India, but its quantity could not be confirmed.

Export order for 140 metric tons rice received

Pakistani rice exporters have made an inroad into South African market by capturing a modest order of 140 metric tons.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan vice-chairman, Haroon Qasim, said Monday that a six-member delegation of Pakistani rice exporters participated in 'Food and Hotel Fair-2000', held at Johannesburg last month.

"This is just the beginning. We have planned and chalked out to capture this market, currently under the control of India and Thailand", he said.

He said Pakistani exporters offered "biryani", made of super basmati rice to the South African visitors and thus made them acquainted with the quality of Pakistani rice.

Haji Qasim said this strategy proved to be very successful and Pakistani stalls were full of rice lovers.

Textile quota transfer

Exporters' associations have urged the government to immediately remove restrictions on transfer of textile quota.

This demand has been raised by Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) and Pakistan Knitwear and Sweaters Exporters Association (PAKSEA) in their joint communication sent to minister for commerce.

They pointed out that belated decision of imposing restriction on transfer-in and transfer-out have retarded textile exports as many exporters with huge export contracts in hand could not transfer quota in their pass books.

These trade bodies have also suggested that the draft of textile quota management proposal for 2001-2004, prepared by the ministry of commerce should be imposed at once particularly when it had been, hailed by all the exporting associations of the country.

Rising dollar hampers legal tea imports

The Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) has asked the government to reduce the customs duty on the import of tea by 10 per cent as the rising value of dollar is encouraging the smuggling.

The PTA Chairman Asghar Ali told a press conference on Thursday that out of a total annual consumption of 130,000 metric tons in the country, 25,000 tons were smuggled while the 105,000 tons of tea were legally imported. The exchequer suffered a loss of Rs1.5 billion in 2000 because of this smuggling.

He suggested that if the government would reduce the import duty to 15 per cent from 25 per cent, there would be an earning of Rs6.735 billion in 2001 as compared to Rs6bn in 2000.

Traders not to pay 0.5% IT under SAS

The government has announced that small traders and businessmen would not have to pay the minimum income tax of 0.5 per cent to qualify for the Self-Assessment Scheme (SAS).

A notification will be issued by the Central Board of Revenue in this connection on Tuesday, on the directives of Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf. The small traders' bodies held a meeting with the CE on Friday last, at which the issue of minimum tax was agitated, besides other problems related to taxation faced by the traders.

A spokesman of CBR announced on Monday that traders and businessmen etc would not have to pay this tax, but they would have to fulfil other prerequisites for qualifying to pay income tax under the SAS-2000.

Trade with France

Ambassador of France, in Pakistan, Yannick Gerard has said that expansion of economic and commercial relations, of France with Pakistan, in coming years would largely depend on the pace of economic revival in Pakistan.

In a meeting with FPCCI members on Saturday, he said proper implementation of recently announced economic reforms package will put back the country on 'road to sustainable development'.

France has been encouraging the Pakistani government to take all necessary measures for the implementation of its economic reforms agenda, as this is a basis for resumption of IMF's medium-term loan programme and also for accruing support from other donor agencies, he added.