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Apr 30 - May 06, 2001

World Bank okays two projects

The World Bank on Tuesday approved two projects for Pakistan, a $10.08 million equivalent project on conservation and a $3 million trade and transportation facilitation project.

The conservation project will help conserve nationally and globally important habitats and species in three protected areas of Machiara in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Hingol in Balochistan, and Chitral Gol in the Frontier province.

It will, according to a World Bank press release, specifically benefit the poor and women who make the most intensive use of natural resources due to lack of other opportunities, by providing skills training and micro-credit.

The project will seek to conserve natural habitats and arrest the decline of species; improve the capacity of government agencies and community institutions; improve collection of bio-diversity data; and support environmental awareness campaigns for the general public, schoolchildren and tourists.

The second project is aimed at assisting Islamabad in developing a more modern, efficient and competitive trade and transportation facilitation system. It will help reduce costs for Pakistan's industry and commerce and, in a competitive market, allow such savings to be passed on to consumers. It will also generate additional employment and growth opportunities.

The project will help develop and support the first phase of Pakistan's medium-term trade and transport facilitation programme, and support permanent institutional arrangements for modern trade and transport facilitation practices.

It will also help strengthen and streamline trade legislation, procedures and documentation; and it will modernize transport legislation and strengthen human resource development.

The project is expected to assist with preparation of a detailed time-bound action programme for further measures to be carried out by trained staff put in place during the project.

Support to gas pipeline assured

Pakistan and Iran agreed on Wednesday that trans-Pakistan route was the only feasible option for Iran-India gas pipeline project. Petroleum Minister Usman Aminuddin told that Iran considered land-route for the gas pipeline as the only feasible option. "We have once again assured them (Iran) that Pakistan is ready to provide any support to remove Indian security concerns but we should know what these security concerns are in the first place," said the minister.

"Why there should be security concerns when the project is in the economic interest of all the three nations," said the minister. However, he said Pakistan did not need to get gas from the pipeline but would support Iran to take the pipeline to India.

The minister led a team of Pakistani experts that held an hour-long meeting with the visiting Iranian delegation led by secretary of the Iran's Supreme National Security Council and National Security Adviser to the President, Hojjatoleslam Dr Hassan Rouhani.

OGDC plans drilling of 8 oil wells

The Oil and Gas Development Corporation has outlined large-scale exploration activities during the next six months with a plan to drill at least eight oil and gas wells, official sources said on Saturday.

"All the Company's resources will be utilized to their optimum capabilities for the planned large-scale oil and gas exploration and drilling activities in the coming six months," said the sources.

After a detailed analysis of the exploration activities in the past, the Company has decided to initiate drilling only after the technical feasibility studies is undertaken and the survey data thoroughly processed, said the officials. The underling objective of this cautious approach is to ensure that a "very calculated risk is taken when physical drilling operations are commenced," they added.

Ufone launched

The government is giving highest priority to information technology to put the country on the road to progress. "And result has started to bear fruit," said Sindh Governor Mohammedmian Soomro while speaking as the chief guest at the formal launch of Ufone mobile service of the PTCL at a ceremony held at the Governor's House on Thursday.

Farm trips

The Board of Investment has asked the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the two chambers at Karachi and Lahore to organize visit and meeting of a 10-member Chinese delegation , currently in Pakistan, to some model farms.

In a communication to the apex trade body and the two chambers, the BoI has informed that the Chinese team which represent four agricultural corporations is interested in setting up vegetable farms particularly chillies, hybrid rice and wheat.

Pakistan, Cyprus plan shipping project

Pakistan has expressed its desire to promote co-operation in various economic sectors with Cyprus, specially in shipping sector. Both the countries may plan joint shipping projects in near future.

This was expressed by the federal minister for communication and railways Lt-Gen (rtd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, during a meeting at ministry of communication on Tuesday with the ambassador of Cyprus based in China, Madam Doria Markides, who is also ambassador for Pakistan.

Cane cultivation

The sugar technologists have warned the government to desist from taking hasty decision of shifting cultivation of sugarcane to sugar beet in Sindh, as according to one, "this decision may prove counter-productive both for the industry and as well as for the growers."

Cement industry

Sindh Minister for Industries and Production Dewan Yousuf Farooqui has suggested the cement industry to consider use of coal, instead of oil, as fuel.

"It would reduce the production cost by Rs500-600 per ton and the cement industry will be delinked from rising fuel oil prices forever," Dewan said while addressing a seminar on "coal as a fuel for cement and other process industries".