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July 09 - 15, 2001

Rs136bn projects for economic revival

Although poverty alleviation is the first and the foremost duty of any government, it cannot be carried out at the cost of the fiscal health of the state.

This was stated by President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Thursday while distributing cheques worth Rs500 million among the Cooperatives scam victims.

Around 1,000 victims, whose deposits were less than Rs200,000, received 50 per cent of their dues with the promise that the rest of the amount to be paid by the year 2003.

Highlighting some of these projects, he said there would be a new strategy to distribute Rs5 billion out of Rs17 billion of Zakat Fund as loans to the have-nots to help them buy small items like sewing machines, boats for fishermen and machines which would enable people to stand on their feet economically.

He said in the past, the poor were paid a monthly subsistence of Rs500 each which could not end their poverty and secondly, the Zakat Committee was lining its own pockets. It has been dissolved and a new one constituted.

For agriculture sector, water development plans like Gomal Zam dam, Mirani dam, raising of Mangla dam level, Rainee canal for Sindh and Thal project for the Punjab had been identified.

The information technology, Musharraf said, could bring quick economic returns and thousands of unemployed youth in urban areas would benefit from it.

The Khushhal Pakistan was another project to bring social and economic changes in the country as Rs8 billion had been allocated for it.

Rehabilitation of sick industrial units was another priority area to push the economy out of its present slumber. More than 100 sick industrial units had already been revived and they had created more than 35,000 jobs. Now the government plans to revive six such units every month starting from May, 2001.

Rs2bn e-govt plan approved

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rahman approved the E-government master plan on Thursday after a detailed presentation on the project.

According to a press release the plan, which will cost about Rs2 billion, will be completed in 12 quarters. An amount of Rs800 million will be spent during this year.

Speaking at the occasion Prof Atta has said that the object behind the introduction of E-government plan is to improve efficiency of government departments and increase the level of transparency in all government transactions.

The minister informed that major components of the plan were Citizen on line, Development of Websites for 34 federal government ministries, electronic official gazette notification, electronic filing of tax returns, websites showing unrepealed statutes and case laws, development of websites of Pakistani missions abroad, electronic payment of utility bills, income tax, sales tax and other federal and provincial taxes etc.

Three-year plan for manufacturing

The government's new "Three-year Development Programme" projects large-scale manufacturing to grow at an annual rate of 7.2 per cent during 2001-04.

Small-scale manufacturing is projected to grow at a rate of 5.3 per cent. The growth would be materialized through improvement in industrial productivity, which is necessary for revitalization of growth and exports.

The construction sector is projected to grow by 4.3 per cent. Besides normal programmes of constructing residential and non-residential buildings, roads, streets, bridges, and tunnels, railway tracks, telecommunication lines, power lines and gas and water, and sewerage lines, additional impetus to growth will emanate from the construction of highways, motorways and airports.

Ishrat says reforms to pay in 3-5 years

The State Bank Governor Dr. Ishrat Husain on Thursday made a long speech to make people believe that the nation will get the benefit of the current economic reforms after three to five years.

"The benefits from these reforms will not accrue until after a lapse of about 3-5 years," he said addressing a meeting of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan at a local hotel. "The losers (in the process of these reforms) are visible right now but the gainers will emerge in distant future," he remarked.

Water dispute resolved

The dispute over distribution of irrigation water between Sindh and Punjab has been resolved after the federal government declared a controversial 1994 decision of inter-ministerial committee as null and void. The government had directed the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to strictly follow the 1991 water accord and rescind the decision of the 1994 inter-ministerial committee, an official source said.

P&G plans expansion

Procter and Gamble (Pakistan) Ltd plans to invest and expand its business in Pakistan.

"Pakistani goods consumer market has a lot of potential to grow in future," Hans-Peter Heissen told newsmen in a brief chat after a presentation on: "Recipes for Success" a Procter and Gamble Perspective" on Wednesday. The function was organized by the Marketing Association of Pakistan (MAP).

Chashma project

The Asian Development Bank has declared $214m Chashma Right Bank Irrigation project "problematic" because of procurement delays and cost overruns.

Official sources told that the bank had included the project in the list of less-than-satisfactory projects as it was delayed by over 33 months. The project was expected to be completed by March 1999.

Sugarcane varieties

Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo has underlined the need of introducing new high-yield varieties of sugarcane with higher sucrose content to bring consistency in its production.