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Dec 25 - 31, 2000

Tractor production drops in 5 months

Tractor production in the country — that peaked to all time high of 35,055 units in 1999-00 — has dropped to 9,429 units during the first five months of the current fiscal year from 14,323 in the corresponding period last financial year.

Talking on Tuesday, industry sources blamed the withdrawal of Rs100,000 subsidy provided by Punjab government and the reduction in loan financing by the Agriculture Development Bank to farmers for the purchase of tractors.

The provincial subsidy on purchase of tractors under the Green Tractor Scheme was withdrawn soon after the military takeover on Oct 12, 1999.

During the last year, the tractor manufacturers had delivered a total of 21,728 units to the farmers, who had obtained ADBP loans while another 13,327 were sold on cash. This year, the bank has so far financed purchase of 5,182 units against 8,149 in the corresponding period last year.

"It'll ruin the industry," a senior official of one of the two major tractor manufacturers remarked when he was asked as to what effects the proposed duty-free import of the tractors would put on the industry.

The government is reportedly considering waiving duty on the imported tractors in view of high prices of the local units.

"By allowing duty-free import of tractors the government is in effect subsidizing the farmers. Why don't this subsidy is allowed to the local industry? It will bring down the prices of the local tractors and help the industry prosper," said an executive of one of the two tractor makers.

He didn't agree to the suggestion that imported tractors would cost less to the farmers than local ones.

Fertilizer demand up by 48%

Fertilizer offtake registered an increase of 48 per cent during the last two months of the rabi season, October and November, as compared to corresponding period last year.

Official sources told on Tuesday that according to a fresh report, the fertilizer industry informed the government that in these two months, the sale of fertilizer was 644,000 tons, which is 47.7 per cent higher than the same period last year.

It may also be pointed out that these high offtakes did not relate to the agronomic demand in these two months, which is very low.

Sources said the high offtake in October and November also indicated that wheat sowing was delayed this year because of water situation, thus providing sufficient time to the growers to buy the commodity.

Sugar production

Despite lower acreage under sugarcane cultivation, the good harvest of about 29 million tons will enable the country to produce around 2.6 million tons of white sugar this year, industry sources said.

The domestic consumption of sugar at 2.9 million tons, on this account, will be easily met after adding to it 0.5 million tons of raw sugar allowed by the government for import by the industry.

These sources said that there should be no shortage of sugar, if hoarding or black-marketing were checked, as stocks of more than 3.1 million tons would be available during the current season.

Similarly, there will be no justification whatsoever for price hike as the issue of cane price at Rs50 per 40kg had been resolved between the growers and millers, a sugar technologist asserted.

Cotton rates down

After ruling firm for the last couple of sessions, cotton prices on Thursday eased modestly as mill demand shrank further owing to year-end considerations.

Official spot rates were lowered by Rs10 per maund but mainly for the inferior stuff, while superior lots continued to be traded at the higher levels.

WAPDA to help revive sick units

WAPDA, Chairman, Lt-Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, said on Thursday that Wapda will help revive sick industrial units and solve all genuine problems of the industrial units across the country on top priority as industry is the backbone of the national economy.

Talking to the newly elected FPCCI President, Iftikhar Ali Malik, at the WAPDA house, he said that he will hold a detailed meeting with the FPCCI after Eid and assured concerted efforts for resolving the problems of industrialists.

Petroleum exploration licence awarded

The government on Saturday granted petroleum exploration license to a joint venture of Pakistan Oilfields Limited (95%) and Government Holdings (5%) over Kotra Block No 2867-4 covering 836.83 sq.km in Balochistan (Kachi & Khuzdar districts).

Simultaneously a Petroleum Concession Agreement was also executed between the parties. The block lies adjacent to Premier's Dadhar Block which falls in prospectivity Zone-III.

According to a press release issued on Saturday, Pakistan Oilfields Limited, the operator of the joint venture, intends to review the geological and geophysical data and interpretation of 50 L. Kms of seismic data in the second year.

Small cars demand up

Rising petrol prices has started shifting prospective buyers from big cars to small cars, thus changing the market scenario and increasing competition among small car makers.

Car production went up by 28 per cent to 16,011 units in July- November 2000-01 as compared to 12,494 units in the same period of 1999-2000, says figures of Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA).

Social action plan

The government has decided to restructure the Social Action Programme (SAP) to make it more effective. Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz chaired on Wednesday a meeting to review the quality and coverage of social services through improvement and restructuring of SAP. It was decided that the programme will be restructured to improve performance rather than increase quantities. It was noted that the SAP is needed for providing social services to the people across the country.