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Aug 20 - 26 , 2001

President unfolds economic strategy

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday unfolded his new economic strategy that seeks to undertaking 20 mega development projects costing over Rs200 billion during the next three-year period.

"The new economic era is being ushered to make the country strong both politically and economically", he stated. Speaking to the newly-elected Nazims and Naib Nazims on the occasion of Independence Day, he said that the proposed development projects will not only improve the country's GDP growth rate but also provide jobs to one million people in the country.

He said he himself would visit most of the places from August 15 to 21 to launch these projects with a view to alleviating poverty and giving a real kick-start to the economy.

The major projects include Gomal Zam Dam, Mirani Dam, Greater Thal Canal project, Right Bank Outfall Drainage project (RBOD), development of coastal highways, Chashma Right Bank Canal project, Greater Quetta Water Supply project, Northern Bypass and the initiation of Turbat-Band road project in Balochistan.

In addition to these projects, the President said that feasibility study was currently being conducted for some more projects which include Kachi Canal project, supply of 100 gallon water project in Karachi, undertaking M-3 and M-4 motorway project, building of Gwadar-Turbat road and Gwadar port with the help of China and the development of Thar Coal project in Sindh. "Out of these 20 projects, nine will be launched by myself while remaining projects will be undertaken by March 23, 2002 after having completed their feasibility studies", he said.

The President also assured that there will not be any shortage of funds to start these mega development projects. "We have already lined huge local and foreign resources for these projects", he claimed. He said Pakistan had the biggest coal reserves at Thar in Sindh which needed to be developed.

Gwadar port to start working in three years

Arrangements are being made to start construction of Chinese-funded Gwadar port, which will become operational within three years. This was stated by the Federal Minister for Communications and Railways Qazi Mohammad Ashraf, while briefing newsmen on Wednesday on his recent visit to China where Pakistan signed three agreements totalling $148 million.

Three berths would be built in the first phase and 18 more, including oil, chemical and container terminals, in the second phase, to complete the port requirements, he added. The minister said that the second phase of Gwadar port construction would cost another $800 million, which was yet to be made available. He, however, said that while Oman had provided $7million for the construction of the port's basic infrastructure, Saudi Arabia had promised to provide $100 million for the construction of a coastal highway.

3.1m tons of sugar output likely this year

Pakistan is expected to produce more than 3.1 million tons of sugar during 2001-2002, owing to bumper crop in the country specially in Punjab this year. Industry sources said on Wednesday that Punjab has a bumper crop of sugarcane while its area under Sindh was also surprisingly increased.

According to the second survey of Sindh Agriculture Extension Department, area under sugarcane increased in Sindh by a modest 1.68 per cent to 242,000 hectares. Last year, Sindh cultivated sugarcane over 238,000 hectares. Area under sugarcane increased in Nawabshah, Sanghar, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, Badin and Thatta districts while crop area in Khairpur, Shikarpur, Larkana and Dadu declined, the survey revealed.

UAE to give $265m for uplift projects

The United Arab Emirates has decided to provide $265 million for various development projects, including Gomal Zam dam and two water supply schemes, one each for Karachi and Quetta.

Oman, the official said, had also confirmed that it would extend $100 million to help Pakistan undertake some of the new mega development projects. Another official of the ministry said China had pledged to provide $600 million for the development of Thar coalfield in Sindh.

Edible oil production

Sindh finance and planning minister, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, has said that large scale plantation of palm and coconut and corporate farming will not only cut down import bill significantly but also add to the beauty of coastal areas, promote tourism and control the environmental pollution. He stated this while talking to a four-member delegation of Pakistan Coconut and Palm Planticians Society.

Rs36bn to be spent on farm projects

The government has planned to allocate an amount of Rs36,009.9 million for completion of different agriculture projects to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and generate revenues through its exports during next 10 years.

An official source told on Wednesday that initially an amount of Rs7,968 million will be earmarked for the execution of the projects during first phase of next three years. If these projects produced encouraging results during first phase then this development programme will be extended for seven years, he added.

Govt declares lapidary as cottage industry

The government has decided to declare lapidary as cottage industry besides spending $50,000 per annum for cutting, polishing and marketing of gems, topaz and other precious stones and metals to achieve $1 billion mineral export target by 2006.

This expenditure, official sources told, would be made out of the export development fund of the Export Promotion Bureau. This is in follow up of a Rs1 billion mineral development package approved by Chief Executive General Pervez in June this year. Ministry of Petroleum and the EPB are coordinating a strategy on mining, cutting, polishing and marketing of gemstone and other minerals to enhance non-traditional exports. The strategy is currently being reviewed by provincial governments, Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.