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Nov 27 - Dec 03, 2000

Report on sugarcane crop crisis sought

The government has sought comments from the agriculture and industries ministries on a report that sugarcane crop will be short by 15 per cent next year and the country will be required to keep on importing the sugar till year 2002 to meet its local requirements.

Both ministries have been asked to find out fact and figures and submit a report on sugar and sugarcane crises to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) so that a strategy could be developed.

Earlier, it was disclosed that the sugarcane crop will also be short next year (2001-2002).

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry officials told that during 1999-2000, out of 46 million tons of sugarcane, 29 million was crushed by the sugar industry while the remaining 17 million tons was diverted for seed and Gur making.

The total sugar production from 29 million tons of sugarcane stood at 2.42 million tons against the domestic requirement of 2.93 million tons. The country was thus deficit by 0.50 million tons.

They said there was no shortage now and the artificial shortage was being created by hoarders.

Explaining, they said, 569,112 tons of sugar was imported between May to October, thus total availability of local and imported sugar was 2.99 million tons against the requirement of 2.93 million tons.

Agriculture ministry said, target for sugarcane was fixed at one million hectacres, whereas it has been sown on 926,000 hectacres, a shortfall of seven per cent in crop area.

The ministry said, anticipated sugarcane production for the year 2000-01 crop is 42 million tons. It assumed that 25% or 10 million tons of cane may go for seed and Gur making. The rest 32 million tons of cane will be available for crushing, thus the estimated sugar production would be around 2.72 million tons against the requirement of 2.93 million tons.

Performance of petroleum sector discussed

World Bank has asked the Pakistani government to accelerate deregulating process of petroleum sector and limit the role of petroleum ministry to a regulator.

Official sources told that the World Bank Vice President Ms Mieko Nishimizu held a detailed meeting with the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Usman Aminuddin on Thursday and discussed the performance of petroleum sector with special reference to deregulating it as early as possible.

She was told that the petroleum ministry was being reduced to a police giving body which will have nothing to do with running the affairs of various petroleum organizations of the oil and gas sector.

Sources said Ms Mieko Nishimizu was told that there were less chances for increasing the oil prices in Pakistan, though the issue would be reviewed next month. She was told that a policy has been devised under which oil prices were reviewed after every three months while furnace oil rates were reviewed every month.

IDB cancels 7 projects in Pakistan

Vice President of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ousmane Seck has said his bank was disappointed that financial support for seven major projects in the private sector of Pakistan were cancelled due to lack of performance.

He pointed out that the private sector was the engine of growth in Pakistan's economy and urged that well-designed bankable projects for financial support be submitted to the IDB through Pakistan's ministry of finance and economic affairs.

A high-powered delegation of the Islamic Development Bank including Vice President Ousmane Seck and Director of Operations and Projects Abdul Aziz Jalloh and their senior staff members held a largely attended meeting of senior Pakistani bankers, leading private sector representatives of businesses, presidents and senior executives of chambers of commerce and industry of Rawalpindi, Lahore and NWFP.

MoU for 16 projects signed

Pakistan and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) on Thursday inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development financing of 16 projects in various sectors over the next three years. Along with five technical assistance schemes, these 16 projects were identified for the IBD financing through a medium three years financing programme (2000-03) during a meeting between Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and visiting IDB delegation led by its Vice President Ousmane Seck.

MoU signed with Italy

Italian government has signed a MoU with Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority for the establishment of an enterprise development centre in Pakistan.

"The project involving an Italian assistance ranging between $ 10 million to 20 million is aimed at the provision of loans to the small enterprises," Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SMEDA, Iqbal Mustafa said.

$15m worth MoU signed

Alhamrani Group of Saudi Arabia, FUCHS Petrolub Germany and Nasser Brothers have signed a $15m memorandum of understanding (MoU) for setting up a plant in Karachi for production of lubricants.

Federal Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz, who was the chief guest, presided over the signing ceremony. Under the agreement, FUCHS, Alhamrani Group and Nasser Brothers will jointly invest about $15 million in the first phase of the project.

Pakistan rich in oil, gas reserves: expert

Pakistan is situated in a zone which has abundant oil and gas reserves, said Dr Wasim Piracha, Geophysical Consultant. Talking to a group of journalists on Sunday, Dr Wasim Piracha, who had been associated with the field of geophysics for the last 20 years in Copenhagen and Stolkhom, said Pakistan was located in a zone where they have tectonism, subduction and plain area full of oil and gas reserves.

Cotton crop

Sustained flow of phutti, from fields into ginners, during the last fortnight (Nov 1 to 15) has brightened up the prospects of harvesting a bumper crop for the second consecutive year.