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Aug 13 - 19 , 2001

Wheat output up to 18.9m tons

Federal minister for food and agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo said on Tuesday the wheat production during the current year had risen to 18.955 million tons, surpassing the revised estimates of 18.5 million tons despite water shortage.

Talking to APP, he said Punjab recorded wheat production of 15.420 million tons whereas in Sindh it was 2.226 million tons, the NWFP 0.759 million tons and Balochistan 0.550 million tons. The target of 20 million tons wheat production was set for the year 2001 but had to be revised twice due to lack of rains and shortage of irrigation water, he added.

The lowest target of 17.4 million tons was estimated by federal agriculture committee after considering prevailing factors and gravity of water situation. He said: "Despite 40 to 50 per cent water shortage we achieved a good production level owing to farmers endeavour, who used water judiciously and efficiently." Junejo said the area target for wheat sowing was set at 8.43 million hectares, showing an overall decrease of 2.9 million tonnes as compared to the previous area of 8.463 million hectares due to non-availability of sufficient irrigation water.

About wheat procurement position, the minister said, about 3.933 million tons wheat had so far been procured against an overall procurement target of 4.5 million tons. In Punjab, he said, about 2.265 million tons wheat has been procured against a target of 3.0 million tons while in Sindh the procurement of 0.429 million tons against the target of 0.400 million tons has been made. In Balochistan, the procurement of 0.080 million tons against a target of 0.100 million tons has been made.

Junejo said the overall wheat stock position on July 17, was 7.385 million tons which included Punjab 3.725 million tons. Sindh 1.111 million tons, the NWFP 0.330 million tons, Balochistan 0.278 million tons and Passco 1.954 million tons.

WB to provide Rs8bn for road rehabilitation

World Bank has agreed to provide financial assistance of Rs8 billion for the rehabilitation of 10 sections of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar National Highway which also includes making Lahore-Gujranwala section six lane.

According to National Highway Authority (NHA) sources, a high-level delegation of World Bank headed by Navaid A. Qureshi held talks with Chairman NHA Maj-Gen Tariq Javed at the head office of the authority. They discussed in detail matters relating to rehabilitation of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar National Highway.

Talking to the delegation Chairman NHA said the government was giving high priority to the construction and rehabilitation of highways as highways network play a significant role in the socio-economic development of the country.

Funding policy for 10-year plan approved

Differences over development projects to be executed in the four provinces under a 10-year plan were resolved at a meeting on Saturday. The meeting, held here with President Gen Pervez Musharraf in the chair, approved the Rs2.5 trillion public sector financing for different projects. Of the total amount, Rs460 billion will be spent over the next three years, according to official sources.

The authorities of Sindh were made satisfied by accepting their plea that the Centre should finance main development projects in the province, including the Right Bank Outfall Drainage, Northern Bypass, Thar Coal Project and two major water schemes in Karachi.

EPB to offer package for small industries

Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) is working on an incentive package for genuine small and medium size export enterprises for boosting exports. Under this package, financial facilities and other incentive will be provided to facilitate these SMEs and thus boosting exports of their products.

"There is no specific sector, but all genuine SMEs, producing export goods will get advantage of this package", says vice chairman EPB Ejaz Qureshi during his first informal chat with journalists. He said the purpose of this get together was to get ideas and suggestions for further improving EPB's working and enhancing country's exports. He was of the view that SMEs were very dynamic and vital in exports growth in the country.

'Work on Gwadar port to begin soon'

Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Monday that the Chinese financial assistance for Gwadar port project would be finalized during his visit to Beijing and construction work would commence from December this year.

Talking to journalists at the Gadani Shipbreaking Yard, he said President Gen Pervez Musharraf would launch several mega projects including

Gwadar port project on August 14, which would not only create job opportunities but would also give a boost to the economy. Shaukat Aziz said the government was aware of the potential and resources available in Balochistan and that was why it had started several projects like coastal highway, Mirani dam, Gwadar port and revival of Saindak project here. He asked the private sector to help the government in alleviating poverty from the country and enable it to provide job opportunities to the unemployed.

Tractor deletion plan okayed

The Indigenization Committee of the Engineering Development Board (EDB) has approved the deletion programme for assembly-cum-progressive manufacturing of Chinese 50 HP Shanghai SH-500 tractor.

Sources in tractor industry said that Allied Motors Limited (AML) has recently entered into a technology transfer agreement with Shanghai Tractors and Internal Combustion Engine Corporation (STEC), China.

The Committee, in its 52nd meeting in Islamabad in the third week of July, allowed the AML to start tractor assembly at a deletion level of 61.8 per cent of local components as against the 60 per cent target set out for the new entrants.