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 1. INTERNATIONAL   2. INDUSTRY
 3. FINANCE  4. POLICY
 5. TRADE  6. GULF

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INDUSTRY

Nov 26 - Dec 02, 2001

Wheat support price to stay unchanged

The federal cabinet on Wednesday okayed an increase in the minimum pension of workers from Rs630 to Rs700 per month under the Employees Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976.

The government had earlier increased pension from Rs425 to Rs630 in January, 2000, prior to which this had remained unchanged for nine years. In less than two years, a 75 per cent increase has, therefore, been effected, an official handout issued after the cabinet meeting said.

The present increase in old-age pension will take effect from Nov 1, 2001. The raise will be financed by the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution's fund.

The cabinet also approved to maintain the support price for the next wheat crop at Rs300 per 40 kg and decided that the provincial governments and Pakistan Agricultural Supplies & Storage Corporation shall procure four million tonnes of wheat during the next harvesting season.

The cabinet also decided to provide incentives, including bank financing, to the private sector for construction of 'silos' to increase wheat storage facilities. The Passco should also embark upon a massive programme of construction of new warehouses to enhance storage facilities by at least half a million ton.

The cabinet also directed the provincial governments and the Passco to make elaborate arrangements for procurement of wheat well in advance so that benefits of support price could accrue to the small farmers as well.

The cabinet approved amendments to the Unani, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Practitioners Act, 1965, with a view to streamlining the oriental forms of treatment in the country.

The amendment shall also improve the educational standard of colleges imparting education/training in Unani, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic system of medicines. It will streamline the functioning of practitioners under these systems of medicine.

China to provide $25m for textile industry

China has agreed to provide $25 million to Pakistan to develop its textile industry, said Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood.

In an interview on Wednesday, he said the two sides have taken a number of decisions to enhance their bilateral trade.

He expressed the hope that some new trade agreements among the businessmen of the two countries would come into force during the visit of President Pervez Musharraf to China next month.

He termed his meeting with Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Shi Guang Sheng on Tuesday as very productive. During the meeting, they observed that the two countries have been enjoying good political relations and deep-friendship over the years, but the pace of their economic cooperation was quite low.

Germany waiting for good projects

Shorn of optimism, Germany is waiting for Pakistan to provide good projects that can be funded by the fresh debt swap offer of 100 million German marks and money available in the 120 million mark pipeline, still to be fully utilized.

The debt swap offer of 50 million marks is for current German financial year ending November 2001 and an equivalent amount is for the next fiscal. And the fear is that the project profiles will not be ready by then.

"There is nothing on the table" as on November 21, says new German ambassador Dr Christoph Brummer, who visited the Finance Ministry two days ago. He did not get any response. He says "we are looking for performance from Pakistan."

Cotton output estimate revised

Cotton Crop Assessment Committee has scaled down its earlier estimate for cotton production in the country from 10.8 to 10.4 million bales for the current season.

This decision was taken at the fourth meeting, held under the chairmanship of the Advisor to the Chief Executive on Food, Agriculture and Livestock M. Shafi Niaz at Karachi Cotton Association on Thursday.

Aptma offers to lift entire cotton stock

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has offered to lift the entire stock of cotton available with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan at a price equal or higher than that offered by the foreign buyers.

Taking strong exception to the TCP's tender for export of 10,000 bales of raw cotton, Aptma chairman Nadeem Maqbool said that this would be contrary to the assurance given by the commerce minister in his meeting with Aptma on Nov 3, that the TCP would not dispose of its stocks before March 2002.

Pakistan economy will grow next year

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Dr Khalid J. Chowdhry strongly hopes that Pakistan's economy, which has been hit hard by the September 11 events and the US-led war on Afghanistan, will start growing from the first quarter of 2002.

He was speaking to reporters at an Iftar-dinner hosted by LCCI vice-president Yawar Irfan Khan on Thursday.

Dr Khalid said the present crisis triggered by the terror attacks on the American soil had proved a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. "There was no other way, or hope, of getting different tiers of economic sanctions on the country dismantled. Nor did we hope to get trade and tariff concessions from our major importers (the EU and the US)," he said.

Suzuki launches SD110

Suzuki Motorcycles Pakistan Limited (SMPL) on Thursday launched new SD110 Flash 4-stroke motorcycle.

The new bike, which covers 67 km in just one litre, has an introductory price of Rs79,500, said chief executive SMPL, Danishmand at a press briefing on Thursday.

He claimed that at a time when economy is facing problems, SMPL is offering its products at reasonable rates. The new bike is designed after careful considerations of engine performance, sleek design and maximum fuel efficiency, he added.