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Feb 05 - 11, 2001

Mangla Dam height to be raised by 40 feet

The government has decided to raise height of Mangla Dam by 40 feet to enhance its storage capacity, it is learnt.

Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf has approved the proposal put forward by the Water and Power Development Authority on the basis of a feasibility study undertaken by the authority, which maintained that raising height of Mangla Dam by 40 feet was technically and economically feasible.

Detailed designing of the project has also been ordered and it has been decided that Wapda will bear the cost of detailed designing up to the tendering stage.

The raising of Mangla Dam height will cater, though partially, the growing demand of water by all the provinces. It is feared that if the country's water storage capacity is not increased up to a satisfactory level, water will become a major irritant among the provinces in the coming years.

The government has also decided to launch small water storage schemes of less than 0.2 MAF (million acre feet) and costing less than Rs200 million. These schemes would be executed by the provinces while Wapda would provide the required technical assistance wherever required.

Regarding Wapda's deficit, the chief executive has constituted a high-level committee headed by finance minister Shaukat Aziz. Chairman Water and Power Development Authority Lt-Gen Zulfiqar Ali and Chief of Staff (COS) to chief executive Lt-Gen Ghulam Ahmed will act as members of the committee which will forward its proposals to the Chief Executive by Feb 10 on how to resolve Wapda's deficit of Rs18.8 billion.

Shortfall in sugar output likely

The white sugar production has declined further by 0.286 million tons thereby widening the gap between estimated output and consumption by 0.5 million tons for the current season.

The figures, released by Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), disclosed that total white sugar production up to January 15, stood at 1.012 million tons as against 1.298 million tons production in the corresponding period last year.

Despite a widening shortfall in current season's production, sugar technologists are of a firm belief that the country would meet its current consumption demand out of 0.5 millions tons of imported raw sugar and a carry over stocks of around 80,000 tons from last season's imported white sugar.

The enhanced domestic consumption for current season of white sugar is being placed near three million tons, against an estimated production of 2.5 million tons.

 Govt. promoting oil, gas sector

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Usman Aminuddin has said that the government was giving top priority to the promotion of oil and gas sector, at an accelerated pace in order to reduce the heavy import oil bill and to stabilize Pakistan's economy.

The minister was talking to the chief executive of Premier Oil UK, Charles Jamieson accompanied by Peter Cockcraft, General Manager of Premier and Shell Pakistan B.V. (a joint venture between Premier Oil and Shell), which called on the minister to discuss matters pertaining to Pak-Premier Oil cooperation in the oil and gas sector.

The minister briefed Charles Jamieson about the on-going and future development activities in upstream and downstream petroleum sector. He also explained salient features of the new off-shore package and said, it would attract more investment.

Sindh jute industry in trouble

Sindh jute industry has strongly protested against Punjab government's decision of not buying its polypropylene (PP) quality bags for wheat procurement this year, fearing it will ruin the whole provincial industry and render thousands of its poor rural labourers jobless.

In an SOS to federal government, the Sindh jute industry, which has already halt work on one its shifts, pointed out to the centre that Punjab government's decision of discouraging its jute bags at a stage when these bags were manufactured in a huge quantity would hurt the provincial jute industry heavily.

Mills to stop cane lifting

The Sindh sugar mills will stop lifting surgarcane from growers at the agreed price of Rs50 per 40 kilogram.

This was decided at the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association's (Sindh Zone) extraordinary general meeting held on Wednesday, to review the situation pertaining to sugarcane supply and price trend.

NWFP records budgetary deficit

The NWFP recorded budgetary deficit of over Rs5 billion as a result of reduced payments made to it by the Centre from the federal divisible pool (FDP).

There was also massive shortfall at the provincial level under its own receipts during the first half of the current financial year, according to senior functionaries of the provincial government.

Against a total annual share [from FDP] of Rs20,360.79 million projected under the provincial budget document, the province received around Rs7,660 million during the period.

'US firms interested in oil sector'

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Usman Aminuddin has said that a number of US companies are already operating in the oil and gas exploration activities in Pakistan and contributing towards augmenting Pakistan's efforts to boost this vital sector of the economy.

The minister was talking to US ambassador to Pakistan William B Milam, who called on him on Tuesday. Both discussed matters of mutual and bilateral relations.

The minister briefed the US envoy about the ongoing and future development activities in the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors.

Package for agriculture sector

The government has offered the agriculture sector a package of duty exemption on import of machinery and equipment Tuesday. The package would be valid for agriculture, forest and water development all machinery imported for which in future would not be charged duty rate of above 10 per cent