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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Mar 11 - 17, 2002

Cut in wheat output target likely

The federal government is set to refix wheat target in the wake of acute water shortage in the country and also to streamline the strategy for its procurement in the coming harvest.

The wheat target had been fixed around 20 million tons but it could be brought down by about 25 to 40 per cent, officials said.

A meeting of the federal committee on agriculture (FCOA) will be held with the federal minister for food and agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo in the chair on March 18 to take stock of the overall crops position and besides firming up the production targets, would take decisions on procurement of wheat strategy, official sources told on Wednesday.

The government continues to face the uphill task of disposing of some 4.1 million tons surplus wheat despite the claims of food department that it would get rid of at least 1.3 million tons by end of current fiscal through private sector export.

No foreign country has offered to purchase Pakistani wheat in bulk dooming the government's effort of early disposing of the surplus wheat, as its quality had been declared substandard by some countries like Iran and Iraq, sources told.

Another factor hampering the export of wheat, the sources say, was the commerce ministry failure to introduce country's food grains as exportable commodity at the right time nor had planners taken pains to maintain the international quality standards, officials said.

An official in the food department told that the government expects to adjust a carry-over of 2.8 million tons on May l, comparatively lesser than last year's 3.5 million.

OMV to start exploring 3rd gas field

Austrian oil company OMV will begin exploration of a new gas field in Pakistan, its third in the country, in two weeks, a senior company official said on Monday.

"Spudding of the Gambat-1 well will begin in about two weeks time," Ashiq Hussain, OMV's Middle East and Far East manager, told AFP. "It has good potential of discovering our third gas field in Pakistan," Hussain said, adding that OMV will be the largest foreign gas producer in Pakistan with production of more than 400 million cubic feet per day (12 million cubic metres).

Production at the Miano field will come fully on stream next month with an initial output of 90 million cubic feet per day (2.7 million cubic metres), Hussain said. Miano's output is meant entirely for domestic consumption.

900 licences for mineral exploration

The Balochistan government has issued over 900 licences for exploration and exploitation of 39 minerals, and was extending all possible assistance and cooperation in this regard.

This was stated during a meeting on Wednesday. The meeting, chaired by the governor Justice (Retd) Amirul Mulk Mengal.

Chinese MCC Company would soon start working on Saindak copper project with an investment of $9 million while an agreement was signed for implementation of Dekodak copper project in Chagai district of Balochistan.

The provincial government would spend Rs13 million for providing infrastructure and construction roads in the mining areas of the province. The government has allocated Rs4.5 million in the current financial year's development budget for the development of mineral deposits in Loralai, Kohlu, Zhob, border town Chaman and Qila Abdullah.

EPZA approached for setting up steel mill

An investor has approached the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) for setting up of a steel mill at the Karachi Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), assuring production of around 1.3 million tons per annum, which is more than Pakistan Steel. This was informed by EPZA chairman Lt-Col (Retd) Syed Akbar Hussain to the members of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI).

Water in Tarbela Dam drops to dead-level

The water level at the country's biggest reservoir, Tarbela, on Tuesday touched the dead level of 1,369 feet beyond which withdrawal of any water would endanger power station of the dam, it is reliably learnt.

The WAPDA and Indus River System Authority have for the first time unanimously recommended to the officials concerned at the Chief Executive Secretariat that no water should be withdrawn from the reservoir beyond the dead level of 1,369 feet, official sources said.

Industrial consumption of POL falls by 5pc

The industrial consumption of petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) products fell by 5 per cent during July- February 2001-2002 as compared to the same period of 2000-2001.

This was stated by Managing Director, Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Tariq Kirmani in a brief chat in his office on Monday. "POL demand has started improving from January and February, otherwise these figures would have been more worse," he said referring to POL consumption decline by 9.1 per cent in July- December 2001 due to the reduced consumption of fuel oil and gas oil which constitute almost 86 per cent of total demand.

145 projects

Around 145 projects costing Rs138 billion are expected to be completed by June this year under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP 2001-2002).

"According to the mid-year review of PSDP for 2001-02, overall release position of the programme is quite satisfactory as about 32 per cent of the total PSDP allocations amounting to Rs140 billion has been released by Dec 31, 2001 to meet expenditures on the projects," Well-placed sources at the Planning Commission told on Saturday.