. .

July 23 - 29, 2001

Wheat procurement ADB offers $250m loan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged $250 million loan to Pakistan for the development of infrastructure for marketing, procurement, storage, distribution and export of wheat.

The assurance was given at a meeting between Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and the bank authorities on Thursday. The meeting, chaired by the finance minister, also reviewed the ADB's Agriculture Program Loan.

Sources said that the finance minister told the meeting that the role of the middleman will be eliminated in procurement of wheat. In this behalf the representatives of the Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan expressed their concern over Punjab's monopolistic role because of being self-sufficient in wheat.

The three provinces, which are facing wheat shortage, called for an effective role of the federal government to resolve wheat related issues among the provinces.

The minister for finance when contacted told that a new strategy was being evolved to develop an adequate infrastructure for the marketing of wheat. He said the new system would help save wheat from going rotton. He said the strategy is also aimed at ensuring free market economy to deal with wheat related issues.

Responding to a question, he said that the ADB's new loan would enhance wheat production and help improve its marketing and procurement processes. "The purpose is also to give right wheat procurement price to the farmers," he said adding that the interests of the farmers will be fully protected.

There was a general agreement on the ADB programme loan. However, some provinces expressed concern over some of the proposed policy changes with a view to safeguarding the interests of the farmers as well as the consumers.

Area under cotton up by 11.3pc

Federal Agriculture and Food Minister Khair Mohammad Junejo said on Saturday that area under cotton cultivation has increased by 11.37 per cent to 2.851 million hectares despite water shortage in the country.

He was speaking at 69th general body meeting of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC). He said that according to recent reports the cotton was sown over an area of 2.455 million hectares which is 21.5 per cent higher than the target of 2.020 million hectares.

In Sindh, cotton was sown over 367,000 hectares and in Balochistan on 29,000 hectares against the target of 500,000 hectares and 40,000 hectares respectively, he said.

He was of the view that if nature remained in favour, the country can harvest a reasonable crop this year as well.

Irsa to take up rescinding of water accord

Indus River System Authority (Irsa) will take up a recent directive of the federal government rescinding controversial 1994 decision of an inter-ministerial committee at its meeting on Tuesday.

The directive of the federal government issued after a great deal of haggling between Punjab and Sindh has already been rejected by the former.

Punjab government in its official reaction submitted to the Irsa last week had reportedly reiterated its position with regard to 1994 decision of an inter-ministerial committee.

It had maintained that the 1994 decision of an inter-ministerial committee was irrevocable as it had later been ratified by Irsa.

Again quoting clause 14(B) of the Irsa act, the provincial government insisted that any decision taken by Irsa cannot be revoked even by the authority itself. It said that the matter could only be taken up at the Council of Common Interest by the aggrieved party.

Soomro for increasing per acre yield

The Sindh governor Mohammedmian Soomro on Tuesday called upon growers, millers and technologists to put their act together for making sugar production cost effective.

Speaking as chief guest at one-day workshop on 'Agriculture' organized by Pakistan Society of Sugar Technologists, the governor said without making commodities cost effective they could not be exported to the world market.

He asked the growers, millers and sugar technologists to make joint efforts to increase per acre yield of sugarcane and introduce such technologies which could assist in making farm produce cost effective.

The governor, who later inaugurated the workshop, said it is high time that such measures are adopted which could make sugarcane cultivation possible even when there was shortage of water.

'Deregulation brings stability'

With total deregulation of trade and removal of all government controls on five substantive segments of the national economy textiles, leather, rice, sugarcane and wheat in last 20 months or so, Federal Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood claimed on Monday of stabilization of the country's economic structure.

"Give three or four years more, this stabilization will consolidate into a firm economic structure," the Commerce Minister told journalists at an informal briefing at the PIDC committee room. The Chairman of Board of Investment Wasim Haqqie was with the minister as a silent companion.

Restructuring plan for SHYDO okayed

The NWFP government has approved the plan of restructuring the public sector Sarhad Hydel Development Organization (SHYDO) making it a corporate entity, according to sources.

To pave the way for SHYDO's corporatization by lowering burden on it, the 12 public sector small hydel power generation stations, owned by SHYDO in different parts of the province, would be disposed of and staff would be retrenched as part of SHYDO's restructuring originally perceived by the last provincial government.