03 - 09, 2001
PSMA for balance in demand, supply
The chairman Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Ashraf W
Tabani said on Thursday that the government will have to rectify its past
mistake by striking a balance between demand and supply of sugar to ensure
viability of the industry.
"The unbridled imports of refined sugar last season has
created a glut like situation in the domestic market resulting in crash of
prices to an extent that it does not even cover up production cost of the
industry," the PSMA chairman maintained.
Tabani said that new crushing season (2001-2002) has started
with a huge carry-over stocks of 6,20,000 tons. As a result of this, he said,
sugar prices came tumbling down from Rs24 to Rs19 per kg.
Consequently, he said sugar industry's operational viability
has been totally eroded and there is no chance of price recovery during the
entire current sugar season, starting from Oct 1, 2001 and will end on Sept 1,
Tea cultivation in NWFP picks up
Commercial production of tea will start from 2004 as tea
cultivation in the NWFP picks up, following initial success of trial production
undertaken by a multinational company.
A 159-acre of land has been earmarked in the NWFP for tea
cultivation, while tea processing plant has already been set up.
Director Beverages, Lever Brothers, Naeem Khokar, told that
his company produced two to three tons of tea this year.
Currently, tea production has been suspended as the planting
season is restricted by weather conditions to a few short months. He said the
process required extreme care and swift transfer of thousands of nursery plants
to the fields and quick re-filling of the nursery for future plantation. Lever
Brothers is currently producing nearly a million cuttings annually.
The total area under cultivation — 159 acres — is
expected to rise to 360 acres by the end of this year and to 1,500 acres in the
next five years, he said.
He said a mutually beneficial agreement was made with
farmers, who sell their green leaves to the Lever Brothers at agreed prices. He
said Mansehra, Chitral and Swat were potential tea growing area and in order to
grow high quality tea. It is essential to have constant downpours and the
temperature ranging between 37 degrees centigrade during the day and 12 degrees
centigrade at night.
The tea processing plant in the small town of Dhodial on 2.5
acres of land was inaugurated recently. The plant, he said, was expected to
process 50 kg of tea per hour or a ton of made tea a day. The aggregate research
and development, including those for the next five years, will cost Lever
Brothers an estimated Rs260 million. The total cost of the plant is Rs11
million, whereas Rs12 million has been spent on the building and infrastructure.
Rs40bn plan for social sector approved
A meeting, presided over by President Gen Pervez Musharraf on
Monday approved Rs40 billion new spending programme for social sector.
The meeting reviewed the government's spending plan following
new foreign aid commitments amounting to $1.2 billion, including $600m received
cash from the United States as part of budgetary support.
After the meeting, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told
reporters that the $600 million, equivalent to about Rs40 billion, had been
disbursed to Pakistan. Giving the details, he said Rs25 billion would be used
for narrowing the budgetary gap to ensure that public sector development
programme and normal government spending were not effected.
Mr Aziz said Rs15 billion had been allocated for social
sector projects, including human development, poverty reduction and job
creation. The amount will be allocated to the provinces. He said the allocations
for Khushal Pakistan Programme had been increased from Rs7 billion to Rs15
No delay in PRGF plan: Shaukat
Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz on Monday said that there
was no delay in IMF's poverty reduction and growth facility programme, and that
it was on track.
Speaking at an Iftar-dinner hosted by the Federation of
Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Monday, Aziz said Pakistan
had impressed upon the developed and donor countries that Pakistan was affected
by the September 11 incident as its exports have been reduced and investment was
Australian firm wins contract
Australian construction and engineering group Clough Ltd has
won the first phase of an onshore gas project in Pakistan worth 194 million
dollars (US$97 million).
The contract is with oil and gas group, OMV, managing
director of the Perth-based company, Brian Hewitt, announced on Monday.
The Sawan field, in the Thar Desert, is about 300 km
northeast of Karachi.
17 projects put on hold
Pakistan has put on hold as many as 17 multi-billion-dollars
infrastructure and energy projects being developed by the Chinese companies
mainly because of regional political situation.
Foreign office sources confirmed that these projects would
not come under discussion at least during the forthcoming visit of President Gen
Pervez Musharraf to Beijing from Dec 20-24.
These sources said that a decision to this effect had been
taken early this month at an inter-ministerial meeting presided over by foreign
secretary Inamul Haq.
"The inter-ministerial meeting decided not to pursue
these projects in the context of the President's forthcoming visit",
another source quoting official documents said.
These also include some very important projects like $1.2
billion Pakistan-Iran Refinery and some crucial parts of Gwadar port project
like Gwadar-Ratodero Road, Linking Gwadar Port with Railway Network.