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INDUSTRY


May 13 -19, 2002

DECLINE IN MAJOR CROPS HITS GDP TARGET

The unanticipated reduced agricultural production specially rice and wheat crops has marred the hopes of achieving 3.5 per cent GDP growth rate during 2001-2002. And now the GDP growth rate for the current financial year was being estimated to be less than three per cent.

Informed sources said on Wednesday that the official estimates of 3.5 per cent GDP growth was unlikely to be achieved because of the estimated just one per cent agricultural growth rate against the target of 2.7 per cent worked out jointly by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The latest figures firmed up by the concerned authorities and revealed showed that there will be 10.7 million cotton bales this year compared to 10.9 million bales of last year.

The rice production has been estimated to be 3.8 million tons compared to 4.8 million tons of last year. The decrease was due to water shortage, squeezing of cultivated areas and some changes in the government policy.

Sources said that the second estimate of wheat production had been 18.7 million tons against the earlier projection of 19.1 million tons. However, sugarcane production was estimated to be 48 million tons compared to 42 million tons of last year. The enhanced production of sugarcane was achieved due to increasing crop area. But the minor crops did not do well owing to shortage of water. The livestock production was also shown to be reducing due to the continued effects of drought that also killed considerable number of animals.

The World Bank believes that Pakistan's agricultural sector possesses the potential to be a lead sector in accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty, "but it has received less attention from the present government".

IRSA OKAYS THAL CANAL PROJECT

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Tuesday accorded certification to the controversial Greater Thal canal project with a 3-2 majority, while the Satpara dam project was approved unanimously.

The authority at its meeting on Tuesday was given a detailed presentation by experts from the Water and Power Development Authority about the two projects following which Irsa put the Thal canal project to vote, Irsa Chief Engineer Amanullah Khan later told a press conference.

Members from Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP voted in favour of the project, while members of Sindh and the federal government voted against it.

Member from Sindh Noor Mohammad Baloch, who is also the chairman of the authority, also gave a dissenting note.

ADB GRANTS $5.2M FOR WATER PLAN

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $5.2 million as technical assistance to Pakistan, and to a water management plan for Asia, the bank said on Tuesday.

A four million-dollar grant would finance the creation of a water system that would provide statistics and information, including national water sector profiles of the selected countries, an ADB statement said.

The project also includes a pilot demonstration of innovative approaches in the water sector, and finance a public awareness drive, comparative analysis of water sector reforms in the region, and regional water partnerships among others.

The bank will provide an $800,000 grant to Pakistan to prepare a small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) sector uplift programme, the Philippines-based bank said.

MINISTER SEEKS INCENTIVES FOR NWFP CAR MAKERS

Expressing his views about the lackadaisical approach of the Pakistan car assemblers and the negative posture of certain vested interests against the import of used cars, the NWFP Industries Minister Mohsin Aziz on Tuesday underscored the need of opening new avenues for industrialization in the province.

The minister said that car assemblers in Punjab and Sindh were enjoying incentives that ran into billion of rupees annually.

GAS PIPELINE PROJECT

Pakistan has invited Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Afghan interim authority Chairman Hamid Karzai to visit Islamabad during the last week of May to re-activate $2 billion Turkmenistan to Pakistan gas pipeline.

This is expected to coincide with the visit of a delegation of Russian energy giant Gazprom accompanied by Russian energy minister to Pakistan to hold discussions on their possible partnership in the consortium undertaking $3 billion trans-Pakistan Iran to India gas pipeline.

SME RISK CAPITAL FUND UNDER STUDY

SME Institute of Finance, Washington D.C., has chalked out a comprehensive development programme for Pakistan's SME sector and also considering setting up SME risk capital fund.

This was disclosed by executive director, SME Institute of Finance, Washington D.C., David Lingelbach, during his recent visit to Pakistan and his meeting with FPCCI chairman Sohail Altaf.

SUGAR OUTPUT RISES TO 3.2M TONS

The domestic sugar production soared by 28 per cent or 700,000 tons to 3.2 million tons during the current season against 2.5 million tons production of the last year.

And the sugar produce remained short of 10 per cent of the highest-ever production recorded at 3.55 million tons, said Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) secretary general K. Ali Qazilbash in a statement issued on Saturday.

The final figure has been calculated on the actual production numbers returned by individual mills across the country, which have been reporting conclusion of crushing activity by April 30. But the excellent production, according to the secretary general was no good news for the industry, at a loss to deal with the carryover stocks of 600,000 tons.