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Mar 12 - 25, 2001

CE sees GDP at 4%, exports $9.5 billion

Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has said that the annual growth rate this fiscal would be four per cent and the export is expected at around $9.5 billion.

The chief executive said the GDP growth last fiscal was 4.2 per cent, reflecting improvement over the 3.1 per cent earlier year. Agriculture played the major role in the higher growth rate, particularly the wheat, cotton and rice. He said the agriculture growth would be slack this year, due to prevailing drought, but hastened to add that manufacturing sector would compensate for the shortfall.

Musharraf observed that the government had set the export target for this year at $10 billion. Although the actual target would fall slightly short, the improvement of nine per cent over the previous year's target which itself was higher by 10 per cent of the year preceding, was no mean achievement. He said new export markets of Egypt, Iraq and Syria were being tapped.

Musharraf stated that he had been conferring with the Pakistan Development Forum (PDF) a body of all foreign donors - and they had expressed satisfaction over Pakistan's economic progress and the measures being taken to stabilize the economy. "They have assured of maximum possible assistance in the future as well," he said.

He said his government had been able to retrieve the economy from total collapse last year and the figures for the first eight months of this year show a 'visible reversal' in the earlier downturn of the economy. He said he had his eye on the revenue collection and the February revenue receipts were higher by 26 per cent over the revenue collected last year.

Musharraf said the capital gains tax exemption, which is to expire in June this year, would "certainly be" extended in the next budget. Regarding the other demands of the stock exchange, viz tax exemption on bonus shares; tax exemption for clearing house protection fund and investors protection fund and privatization through the stock exchange, he said the government would look closely at them.

Kohat oil discovery to earn $49.6m

The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has struck major oil reserves with about 4,300 barrels of oil and 13.37 million cubic feet of gas per day output here, about 70 Kms from Kohat District of NWFP.

Discovery of three zones in Chanda deep well No.1 has initially produced 900, 1150 and 2250bpd respectively which has increased total production from the area to 5,500bpd with an estimated earning of $49.620 million per annum, officials at OGDCL told APP Wednesday.

The company is already producing about 1200bpd and 5.19 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) natural gas from another well in the same petroleum concession area.

Operation Manager, Syed Baidar Qamar said Chanda deep well No.1 was successfully drilled down to its target depth of 5100 meters.

He said the drilling of Chanda deep well started in January last year and completed in 330 days, 10 days ahead of its proposed time.

Small dams planned all over country, says Musharraf

Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday said many small dams costing about Rs200 billion would be built at various sites in the four provinces to address the water shortage problem.

He was responding to a question asked by a woman councillor at the concluding session of women councillors' convention. Gen Musharraf said it was not right to think that construction of only Kalabagh dam could fulfil the irrigation and power generation needs of the country.

He said instead of insisting on building Kalabagh Dam in the presence of reservations of Sindh and the NWFP provinces, the government had decided to prepare feasibility for small dams like Hingol Dam in Balochistan, Gomal Zam Dam in the NWFP and Sehwan Dam in Sindh.

Defence budget

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday said the government did not want to raise its defence spending in the real terms in the next budget but an increase could not be ruled out.

"We want to maintain the defence budget at the current level in the real terms after factoring in the impact of inflation. But it may be increased. I can't say anything (right now). It will be known only when the budget (for the financial year 2001-02) is announced," the minister told.

Reforms in farm sector

Pakistan has made an "urgent request" to the Asian Development Bank to release $200 million loan this year for carrying out reforms in agriculture sector.

The ADB had earlier told Islamabad that it would not release the money this year because of agriculture ministry's failure to conduct required studies on different areas of farm sector.

WB, donor agencies to help revive economy

International donor agencies led by World Bank have decided to support Pakistan in efforts to revive its economy, specially to help it to increase the growth rate and reduce poverty in the country.

"On the first day of the Pakistan Development Forum session, the donor community also expressed support for steps to improve methods of governance and improve social indicators," a senior official who was at the meeting said.

Briefing reporters, Economic Advisor of the Ministry of Finance Dr Ishfaq Hasan Khan said that the PDF meeting was being attended by 115 delegates from 17 countries and 12 international agencies. He said 20 people from private sector also attended the meeting.

Industrial development

Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Government to promote industrial development instead of exploiting industrialists.

Khawaja Mohammed Yousaf, President MCCI, in a press statement Saturday said WAPDA has demanded enhanced 'security deposits' for extension of industrial load from B-1 to B-4 and questioned the justification for the demand.