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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Dec 10 - 16, 2001

No support price for sugarcane this year

The government has decided not to offer this year any support price for sugarcane and instead fixed an unannounced "indicative" price of Rs 43 per 40 kg of the crop.

Official sources said on Tuesday that a letter, jointly signed by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood, had been sent to the Cane Commissioner, Punjab, to set the indicative price of Rs 43 per 40 kg for sugarcane.

The letter was now being sent to the Sindh and NWFP governments, the sources added. However, no notification was issued by the cabinet division over the issue which, according to the sources, was against the spirit of an earlier decision taken by President Gen Pervez Musharraf that farmers be offered support price for their sugarcane, as in the previous year.

"The new decision has to be documented", an official said, conceding that no notification had been issued so far over the matter.

The president had approved support price for four major crops wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane, which was now reportedly being resisted by some high officials, including the commerce minister, specially for sugarcane.

The sources said sugar mill owners were being favoured by not agreeing to offer support price to the farmers despite clear instructions of the president.

It was said that the commerce minister might have got some verbal approval of the president through his (president's) Principal Adviser, Tariq Aziz, for having an indicative price, about which no notification had been issued.

The commerce minister was believed to have also asked the governor of Sindh not to look for any implementation of support price and that, instead, an indicative price regime should be encouraged.

Balochistan achieves 97pc target

The cotton production in Balochistan showed remarkable progress as 100,000 bales of cotton have been produced during the current season , Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Khair Muhammad Junejo told APP on Tuesday.

He said cotton sowing in Balochistan for the first time achieved 97 per cent of the target of 40,162 hectares during 2001- 2002.

He said federal and provincial governments had undertaken concerted efforts to introduce cotton cultivation in paddy growing areas of Khuzdar and Pat Feeder (Dera Murad Jamali). He said the quality of cotton was exceptionally good and of excellent quality. He said seeds of two varieties Nayab-78 and CIM-109 were used, which gave remarkable results.

Being new area there was no threat of any pest attack so that "we want to initiate Integrated Pest Management Programme in Balochistan so that pest situation in Balochistan does not flare up," he said.

TCP announces new cotton rates

Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has announced the rates for procurement of cotton grade box II as well as premium for contamination-free cotton.

According to TCP on Wednesday, the new rates for Grade Box II cotton with staple length 1-1/16" will be Rs2,322 per 40 kg while Rs2,176 per maund (37.32 kg) with immediate effect.

The cotton should have a moisture content of 8 per cent, micronaire 3.8 to 4.9 NCL and trash content 4.7 per cent while the cotton should be packed in TCP's standard export packing.

Meanwhile, The Corporation will pay an additional premium of Rs200 per maund on the purchase of contamination-free cotton, and Rs75 per maund on low contamination from 0.5 to 2.5 grams in a bale. These prices will be valid for one week up to December 10.

Major units sell-off plan shelved

The Privatization Commission has decided not to disinvest major state sector units in their present shape to avoid complications and huge losses.

"We have changed our strategy to disinvest major units like PIA, ports & shipping, Steel Mills, airports, HMC, etc., which will not be brought in the market unless their formidable losses are significantly curtailed," said the Minister for Privatization Altaf M. Saleem.

He told that without removing what he termed "financial bleeding" of the major corporations and enterprises, it would be unwise to put them for sale in their present weak position.

ADB to develop Sialkot SMEs

The Asian Development Bank will design a comprehensive programme in active collaboration with Smeda to develop the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of Sialkot.

The ADB's fact finding mission announced this while addressing a meeting of local traders, industrialists and exporters at the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Tuesday after visiting various industrial units in Sambrial, Daska and Sialkot.

6.311m bales reach ginneries

More than 6.311m cotton bales arrived at the ginning factories till December 1.

According to a fortnightly report of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) on Tuesday, cotton arrival has depicted a decline of 9.72 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Last year, more than 6.991m bales had reached ginning factories during the same period.

China to support in oil, gas exploration

The Chinese government has assured its all possible support to Pakistan for development of oil, gas and coal resources, said Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Usman Aminuddin.

The Minister, who held a number of meetings with the Chinese officials and experts to seek their cooperation for exploration of natural resources in Pakistan, said "the response of their Chinese friends is very positive and encouraging."