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Apr 23 - 29, 2001

Rs125 billion locomotive projects okayed

The government has decided to manufacture and procure 98 new locomotives including 29 electric ones at a cost of Rs125.4 billion, mainly with the financial and technical support of China.

Official sources said on Thursday that the Planning Commission of Pakistan had okayed two locomotive projects of the Ministry of Railways and put them on top priority list.

The manufacturing and procurement of 69 locomotives would cost Rs121 billion and its Foreign Exchange Component (FEC) would be Rs64 billion. China and some other countries, as well as international donor agencies, are expected to offer assistance for the project.

The project will be taken up in 2001-2002 and completed by 2004-2005. Pakistan Railways is the sponsoring agency of the project. The Pakistan Railways intends to procure/manufacture 2000 Horsepower and 3000hp locomotives in its locomotive factory at Risalpur, installed in collaboration with Japan.

It has rated capacity to manufacture 25 locomotives of 2000hp or 3000hp on single shift basis.

It has manufactured or assembled 23 locomotives of 2000hp and is currently engaged in assembly/manufacture of 3000hp locomotives.

The other project is the procurement of 29 electric locomotives which would cost Rs4.4 billion and its FEC is Rs2 billion. The project will be taken up in 2001-2002 and will be completed in 2003-2004.

The Pakistan Railways has a fleet of 29 electric locomotives of 3000hp working on Lahore-Khanewal section of 286km. The section was commissioned in 1969. These locomotives of British origin have completed more than 30 years of age.

The spare parts, especially of electronic components, are not manufactured anywhere in the world. As such these locomotives remain out of order. The Planning Commission is of the view that the possibility of manufacturing these locomotives in Pakistan Railways' factory can also be looked into.

Karachi water projects approved

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved on Monday Rs8 billion Greater Karachi Water Supply Project phase-V, and Water Loss Reduction and System Strengthening Project for the city.

The Ecnec meeting, which was presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, was of the view that water shortage in Karachi was needed to be removed by completing various projects as early as possible.

The water supply project will offer additional 100 million gallon per day (MGD) to the city. The meeting approved a number of projects including Roll Back Malaria Programme involving a new approach to malaria eradication costing Rs253 million. It was decided that provinces would fully participate in the project to make this new approach result-oriented.

The Ecnec also approved setting up of 4MW hydel power station at Juglote Gah in Northern Areas at a cost of Rs290.2 million.

Economic growth to remain sluggish: ADB

Pakistan's economy is crawling towards recovery but growth is expected to remain sluggish over the next two years with further debt relief "critical," the ADB said on Thursday.

Spurred by improvement in agriculture and a modest acceleration in industry, the economy showed real GDP growth of 4.8 per cent last year from 3.1 per cent in 1999, according to the bank's regional outlook.

It said there was a strong recovery in construction and faster growth in the electricity and gas sectors, which pushed industrial growth to three per cent in 2000, from 2.5 per cent.

Various reforms agreed this year with the IMF were expected to boost investor confidence, it noted.

Under an IMF standby facility worth 596 million dollars, Pakistan is committed to reduce fiscal deficit to 5.2 per cent of GDP in 2001 from 6.5 per cent last year.

Sick units sale

The power utilities WAPDA and KESC have demanded share from the sale proceeds of around 868 private sector sick industrial units the Corporate and Industrial Restructuring Corporation (CIRC) starts selling this month.

"WAPDA and KESC, being the utilities of national importance, be given top priority for giving share from the sale proceeds of the sick units against the outstanding bills," said chairman WAPDA Lt-Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, in a letter to the federal finance secretary.

SMEDA to open office in Sialkot

The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) has planned to set up its office at Sialkot to promote small and medium businesses in the area, officials told on Tuesday.

"We are actually working on a plan to encourage clusters of SMEs in the three districts of Sialkot, Wazirabad and Gujrat," the officials said. They said the authority planned to develop a "triangle of these districts with clusters of the SMEs."

Maladies hit $8bn SAP working: study

The US$8 billion worth of Social Action Programme (SAP) is suffering from poor planning and budgeting, lack of trained staff, absenteeism, inadequate and unreliable supplies of key inputs needed to maintain service quality, faulty construction, and weak monitoring, a mid-term final review report of SAP-II reveals.

The report, financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development, has also identified a number of problems in the social sectors like deficiencies in implementation, flaws in the design, poor governance, and insufficient efforts in social services.

The SAP is a national programme launched in 1992-1993 which was redesigned to coincide with the Eighth Five Year Plan. Seventy-five per cent of the total amount for SAP was to be provided locally and remainder from foreign assistance.

SD-110 bike

The Suzuki Motor Cycles Pakistan Limited has commenced commercial production of a four-stroke category Suzuki SD 110, 4-stroke, 110cc since mid March.