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Apr 09 - 15, 2001

Six welding electrodes units closed

The lopsided government policy has not only resulted in closure of six, out of 12 welding electrodes manufacturing industrial units, but has also supported import of welding electrodes, industry sources said.

The industry had been contributing as an import substitution, saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange, but reduction in import duty on commercially imported welding electrodes made the local industry sick and unviable.

The government under WTO agreement had been reducing customs tariffs on all category of imports, including welding electrodes by reducing it upto 35 per cent in the year 2000-01, from 90 per cent being charged in the year 1992-93.

As a result of this many industrial units have either closed down or become sick, including six units, which had been producing welding electrodes.

With budget planning, presently underway, industry and trade is approaching the government for getting relief or seeking removal of anomalies in their relevant SROs and notifications.

In a similar representation, welding electrodes manufacturing industry has also approached the government for seeking relief by maximizing duty on imported welding electrodes and if needed, impose 10 per cent regulatory duty, so that local industry could become viable.

The welding electrode industry is labour intensive and provides jobs to a large number of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Around 5,000 employees are directly and indirectly connected with this industry.

Industry sources say the installed capacity of local welding electrodes industry is quite enough to meet the entire demand of local market.

Major welding electrode industry uses the wire rods (75 per cent of total raw material), which is normally produced locally by using billets produced by the Pakistan Steel Mills.

Kharif target lowered

Federal Committee on Agriculture which met on Saturday lowered Kharif crops targets because of the water shortage. The crops are cotton, sugar cane and rice.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo while briefing newsmen after the 74th meeting of the FCA.

The agriculture minister said the meeting took stock of water situation in the Kharif season. He quoted the Irsa Chairman Mian Hafeezullah as telling the meeting that Irsa was expecting a minimum of 49 per cent and a maximum of 61 per cent shortage in the early Kharif season from April 1 to June 10. However, he said, an overall shortage of 17 per cent was expected in the entire Kharif season.

The government, he said, was trying to shift as much area as possible from rice a water intensive crop to cotton. The government had already banned rice cultivation in some areas of Sindh and was planning to convert half of the irrigated area of Balochistan from rice cultivation to cotton, because of the water shortage, he added.

Govt to scrap refinery caps

Pakistan said on Monday that as part of a plan to begin petrol exports it would soon scrap a 75% throughput cap on two coastal refineries, to allow the plants to operate at full capacity from July 1.

Pakistan imposed the limits on Pakistan Refinery Limited and National Refinery Limited in September to help support the newly commissioned 4.5 million-ton inland Pak-Arab Refinery, which boosted the country's refining capacity by around 60%.

The refinery is a joint venture with Abu Dhabi.

"The government has decided to lift the limit from both the coastal refineries after the decision to export surplus petrol from Pak-Arab Refinery," a senior official at the petroleum ministry said in an interview from Islamabad.

OGDC given three months

The government has granted three month's time to state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and its Qadirpur joint venture partners to meet specifications in gas supply to Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) or face Rs one billion penalty.

Official sources told that the directorate general of petroleum concessions (DGPC) had earlier imposed Rs one billion penalty on OGDCL and its joint venture partners for alleged breach of petroleum rules that took place due to delayed completion of the Qadirpur gas project.

The non-payment of penalty latest by March 13 could have led to revocation of multi-million dollar development and production lease to the 4-member joint venture under Pakistan Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules 1986 and Qadirpur Petroleum Concession Agreement.

WB to help develop private gas pipelines

The World Bank will assist Pakistan in developing private sector gas pipelines through multinational energy firms and international financiers to link its power and industrial sector with the untapped gas reserves.

The World Bank (IBRD) sources told on Tuesday that a four-member energy mission of the bank would visit Pakistan for 10 days (from April 9 to 20) to hold discussions with the local gas companies, international oil companies, power utilities and financial institutions.

The mission, comprising Marc Heitner, Waqar Haider, Rashid Aziz and Ralph G. Schwimmbeck, will look into measures to improve the pipelines in private sector and to develop the necessary policy framework including issues relating to Gas Regulatory Authority (GRA).

Iraq ready for joint venture

Iraq is ready to welcome joint venture offers from Pakistani companies in the field of pharmaceutical products and will extend all possible assistance on case-to-case basis.

This has been stated by the Iraqi Minister of Health, Dr Omed Madhat Mubarak in a meeting with the Chairman Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Tariq Ikram.

The meeting was held on Monday, at the bureau's head office.