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INDUSTRY


April 22 - 28, 2002

TAINT-FREE COTTON DISTS INCREASED TO NINE

The government and the private sector on Thursday agreed on increasing contamination-free cotton producing districts to nine from last year's three districts. They also agreed on introducing Cotton Standardization Ordinance very shortly to improve cotton price in the international market.

This was stated by Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood at a news briefing after presiding over a meeting of ginners, farmers, textile industries, Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (SMEDA), Pakistan Cotton Standard Institute (PCSI) and provincial government representatives.

It was decided that Bahawalpur in Punjab, Sanghar in Sindh and Kachi, Khuzdar, Lasbela and Sibbi in Balochistan should be declared as contamination-free cotton producing districts in addition to Rahimyar Khan in Punjab, Ghotki in Sindh and Nasirabad in Balochistan.

The meeting also reviewed the results of last year campaign for contamination-free cotton, and it was found very successful particularly in Punjab, followed by Balochistan, but in Sindh it was a failure.

The minister said that Pakistani cotton used to be containing 26 to 27 grams contamination per bale which was targeted to be brought down to 2.5 gram per bale. According to Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) figures, based on 4000 bales it procured, contamination was 1.83 grams per bale.

The textile mills, however, reported 4 grams contamination per bale particularly in Rahimyar Khan. "All the participants were of the view that campaign was successful in bringing down the contamination to 4 grams per bale but the target of zero per cent contamination-free cotton could not be achieved," said the minister.

WHEAT CROP ESTIMATED AT 19M TONS THIS YEAR

The production of wheat has finally been estimated at 19 million tons this year. "The final figures received from the provinces show the country is to harvest a wheat crop of 19 million tons," said the President's Advisor on Agriculture, Mr Shafi Niaz.

Had there been sufficient rains and no windstorms, wheat production could have exceeded 20 million tons, he said.

Last year, the crop size stood at almost 19 million tons and the target of achieving a little over 20 million tons this year could not be managed because of persisting drought and water shortages, he said.

The ministry of food and agriculture has been asked to ensure that four million tons of wheat is procured from farmers this year. Punjab will be procuring three million tons while PASSCO has been told to lift one million tons, informed sources said.

A proposal was also being discussed to fix the wheat support price at Rs320 per forty Kg this year as compared to Rs300 of last year, in order to appease the farmers' community, the sources said.

SUGAR OUTPUT TO HIT 3.3M TONS

Sugar production is heading to hit a three-year high level of well over three million tons but the unsold stocks are piling up with the crushers because of a considerable decline both in private and public sector lifting.

"With most of the six dozen odd mills being still in the production process, the total production is expected to match the previous record figure of 3.3m tons," a Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) member predicted.

JUTE INDUSTRY FACING CLOSURE

The jute industry the third largest organized industry after textile and sugar is fearing complete closure of units due to a proposed reduction in import duty below minimum slab on finished products and the Punjab government's decision to use polypropylene bags for wheat packing.

Sources in the jute industry told that the government is considering to reduce import duty on finished jute products to 10 per cent instead of 25 per cent envisaged under the WTO rules.

2 OIL EXPLORATION LICENCES GRANTED

The Government of Pakistan on Tuesday granted two petroleum exploration licences to the joint venture of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (95 per cent) and Government Holdings (Pvt) Limited (5 per cent) in Block No. 3069-3 (Khajuri) zone II covering and area of 1,366.04 square kilometres and Block No. 3370-10 (Nashpa) with an area of 979.69 square kilometres in zone II.

CONTAINER TERMINAL PROJECT

Federal Minister for Communications and Railways Lt-Gen (Retd) Javed Ashraf said on Monday that, with private sector collaboration, the government is determined to make the Karachi Port as a gateway not only to Pakistan but also for the region.

He was addressing as a chief guest the foundation stone laying ceremony of container terminal at berths 6-9 East Wharf, which would cost $65 million, and is being built by a private sector company.

GHAZI BAROTHA ROW RESOLVED

A high-level meeting on Sunday resolved all the issues relating to Ghazi Barotha Dam, and decided to complete the project by July 2003. Sources told that the meeting decided to resume the plan without delay.

THERMAL PLANTS

In a major policy reversal, WAPDA has sought permission to set up around 1200MW thermal independent power projects (IPPs) to meet energy shortage, a move it criticized for almost a decade.

SPI REGISTERS RISE

The prices of 31 out of 51 items, included in the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), soared and those of 13 decreased during the week ending April 11, 2002, over the corresponding week of previous year.