11 - 17, 2001
Curbs on new projects lifted
The National Economic Council on Thursday lifted moratorium
imposed on new schemes by the government, besides approving 4.5 per cent GDP
growth rate and Rs130 billion Public Sector Development Programme for 2001-2002.
The NEC meeting, which was presided over by Chief Executive
Gen Pervez Musharraf, also approved three-year and 10-year perspective
development plans. The NEC, the highest decision-making body on economic issues,
was reportedly criticized by the provinces for not having adequate resources to
mitigate the effects of the continued drought situation.
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Deputy Chairman Planning
Commission Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry later told a news conference that there had
been 18 per cent increase in the PSDP over the current year development programme.
The finance minister said that Rs130 billion Public Sector
Development Programme also included Rs30 billion funds to be generated by the
provinces and as such the size of the PSDP was Rs120 billion. He said provinces
were not forced to generate Rs30 billion. "In fact the provinces themselves
said they would generate Rs30 billion by collecting various taxes and
duties," he said.
Answering a question, the finance minister said the GDP
target had been fixed at 4.5 per cent for 2001-2002, the details of which would
be revealed at the time of the announcement of budget on June 16. However, the
finance minister and the deputy chairman Planning Commission did not explain how
could 4.5 per cent growth target be achieved when the current year growth was
being projected below 3 per cent. The third quarterly report of the State Bank
foresaw 2.8 per cent growth for 2000-2001.
Dr Chaudhry said that performance of agriculture sector was
likely to improve during the next financial year and as such it might not be
that difficult to achieve 4.5 per cent growth target in 2001-2002. He said the
government had decided to shelve $750 million National Drainage Programme
because of lack of sufficient funds. "In fact we plan to re-study this
mighty project to have some other relatively small and suitable projects,"
NEC okays major uplift projects
The National Economic Council (NEC) has approved a number of
development projects in the new PSDP including Rs6 billion water supply project
Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry
told reporters on Thursday in a separate briefing that the chief executive had
changed the entire investment strategy with a view to having major development
"The Karachi water supply project will get Rs6 billion
in the next PSDP to have another 100 million gallon water for the city", he
further stated. The project will be completed in two and half years time.
"The NEC has also approved two major projects for Karachi which include
Northern Bypass and Lyari Expressway at a cost of Rs4.5 billion and Rs3 billion
separately", he said. Similarly, he said that Rs6 billion would be provided
for water supply project in Quetta.
'Mega projects can improve cement industry'
The announcement of a couple of 'mega' public sector projects
and the new allocations of gas to units, could improve the demand and supply
side of the country's cement industry, giving the 'underdog', a fresh chance to
take a positive turn.
In their Research Report on Wednesday, The First Capital
Equities Limited observed that all the industry variables in the cement sector
were based on "pure open market practices", but a few budgetary
changes could give fillip to the ailing sector. On the demand side, the
announcement of any mega public sector project would be a major bull factor for
the cement sector. Given the ongoing water shortage, the government might
announce construction of a few water reservoirs in the North. "Since all
the provinces have shown their consent to this, we feel that construction work
will start immediately", the analysts said, adding that the cement industry
could receive a big boost by such an action.
Development package approved
Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf on Monday approved a Rs1
billion development package for the mineral sector with a projected annual
foreign exchange earning of $1 billion. Official sources told that the package
was approved after a detailed over three-hour presentation by the petroleum
ministry that was also attended by the ministers for finance and commerce
besides provincial chief secretaries.
The CE approved Rs50 million for the provincial government to
establish mines and mineral departments at the provincial level. Another Rs100
million special grant was approved out of the poverty alleviation fund to reduce
gestation period of high altitude gemstone and precious stone development.
OGDCL produces 26,028 mmcfd gas
The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has
enhanced daily average production of natural gas up to 868 mmcfd. This is one of
the highest ever production of the natural gas recorded since the inception of
the Company, sources told on Monday.
According to OGDCL's production figures, the Company produced
a total of 26,028 mmcfd natural gas in the month of April 2001, with daily
average production of 868 mmcfd. These production figures indicate a substantial
increase of 3,505 mmcfd over the gas produced in March 2001 which was 22,523
mmcfd and is an increase of 4,072 mmcfd over the corresponding month during the
previous year i.e. 2000.