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Feb 26 -Mar 04, 2001

Higher oil prices sought

Pak Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO) will issue an international tender for the export of surplus petrol following dilly-dallying by Iran on prices. This was stated by managing director, PARCO, Dr Shahid K. Haq at a press briefing at the refinery on Sunday.

"We will issue an international tender as Iran has offered very low price for our petrol", he said without giving any details as to when the company will invite the international tender.

A PARCO official told reporters that the refinery has to invite international tender very urgently due to annual surplus of 400,000 to 500,000 tons of petrol following commissioning of the refinery.

"We have the capacity to produce 1,500 tons per day but we have slashed the production to 1,000 tons", he said.

The official said the government has also asked PARCO to cut the production of petrol by 25-30 per cent. The government has also asked other refineries to cut their production of petrol also.

The main bottleneck in exporting surplus petrol is the lack of storage capacity for petrol in PARCO.

"We are holding negotiations with National Refinery Limited (NRL) and Caltex to provide us storage facilities so that additional production could be exported immediately", the official said.

The demand for petrol is gradually plummeting due to rising petrol prices, conversion of cars systems into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and surplus petrol due to commissioning of PARCO refinery, the officials said.

With the commissioning of PARCO's refinery, there has been a substantial increase in the supply of petroleum products in the country specially LPG, diesel, petrol and furnace oil.

PARCO managing director while referring to other matters said that Qatar is setting up a refinery and they have sought expertise of our engineers.

SCCCA increases cotton crop estimate

The standing committee on cotton crop assessment (SCCCA) has increased its estimate to 10.6 m bales from earlier 10.4 m.

While revising its figures, the committee did not clarify the average weight of cotton bale. The average weight of bale has been 170kg in the past. Midway through the current season the ginners started pressing 160kg bales.

An official press release, issued on Wednesday, says that 12th meeting of SCCA was held at the central cotton research institute (CCRI) with advisor to the Chief Executive on Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Chaudhry Shafi Niaz, in the chair.

The committee discussed recent developments in cotton market and production in order to have an update assessment of the expected size of the cotton crop 2000-2001.

GDP growth target may not be met

The government has told a visiting five-member IMF review mission, headed by Sena Eken, that 6 per cent GDP growth target set for 2000-2001 was unlikely to be achieved due to drought-like situation developing in Pakistan.

Informed sources said on Monday that the mission, which had been holding meetings during the last few days with the government officials, including the finance minister and the State Bank governor, was informed that the drought-like situation had developed that had made it almost difficult to achieve various targets, specially relating to agriculture.

The government was apparently avoiding to concede in the public that acute water shortage was causing problems to improve various economic indicators set for the current financial year.

Dutch printing group

The Stork Textile Printing Group of Holland inaugurated its corporate office in Karachi, when group's financial controller Fred van Efeeren unveiled the plaque at Sharae Faisal on Wednesday last.

In a ceremony held at a local hotel, the managing director of Stork Pakistan Danny Sheikh and Dicdiostra of Stork Screens, Holland unfolded the story of past six years' successful operations in Pakistan of the Stork — a technology-based group with global operations.

Palm trees farming encouraged

Pakistan Coconut Plantation Society is encouraging farmers to grow palm oil trees, to reduce dependence on imported palm oil.

A delegation of PCPS comprising its members, alongwith provincial director of Pakistan Oilseed Development Board Waris Shaikh and regional manager PODB Ansar Ahmed visited a farm at Deh Kala Kot, Thatta.

The farmer informed the delegation that an area of 50 acres was brought under cultivation of palm oil trees as against the original plan for planting 100 plants, a press release said.

$200m ADB farm loan in jeopardy

The Asian Development Bank's $200 million loan for agricultural sector is in jeopardy as the Ministry of Agriculture has so far been unable to prepare reports on various sectors of agriculture required by the bank.

The ADB had asked the ministry to prepare reports aimed at introduction of agricultural commodities markets, futures trading and integration of 4-5 existing agricultural commodity markets and submit them to the bank before the release of first tranche of $100 million by June 30.

Belgian assistance

Government of Belgium has offered its assistance to Pakistan in manufacturing modern fibre glass fishing boats to give a boost to the local fishing industry.

This was informed in a meeting with the Belgium delegation under the chairmanship of advisor to the chief executive on food, agriculture and livestock held on Monday.

Cotton production at 9.6m bales

Amid sustained arrival of phutti from the fields into the ginneries, the lint cotton production upto Feb 15, remained 1.30 per cent higher at 9.616 million bales from the corresponding period of last year , when output stood at 9.493 million bales.

The official figures of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners' Association (PCGA) strongly suggested that the total harvest of lint cotton current season will stand little more than of last year, when production was at around 9.6 million bales.