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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan-28 - Feb-03, 2002

3.5pc GDP growth likely this fiscal

Pakistan could post GDP growth at 3.5 per cent for the current fiscal year 2001-02, on the back of an overall expected 2 to 2.5 per cent robust growth in the agriculture sector, analysts said on Thursday.

Economists at brokerage Taurus Securities, who said they had compiled numbers after discussions with the central bank and the country's economic managers, visualised better than expected performance from the agriculture sector this year, which was likely to provide the needed impetus to the GDP growth.

The GDP for the current year was initially targeted by the government at 4 per cent, which was later scaled down to an estimate ranging close to 3 per cent following threats from various adversities: mainly water shortage and events following Sept 11.

Four major crops-except rice-were all slated to yield bumper harvests this season. Cotton crop was expected to finally fall in the region of 10.4 million to 10.5 million bales close to last year's production figure of 10.7 million bales.

Sugarcane was forecast to yield a crop size of 46.5 million tons, up 6.6 per cent from last year's production of 43.6 million tons. "The adequate performance of both these crops is mainly attributable to better rainfall during the period April-June 2001, which is the sowing period for both these crops," analysts said.

Rice crop was expected to be down to below 4 million tons, at 3.8 million tons for the current fiscal year, against 4.8 million tons in the previous season. "The decline in rice harvest is mainly due to switching from rice cultivation to cotton and wheat given the shortage of water during most part of last calendar year, which significantly led to reduction in availability of canal water," say analysts.

Among the four major crops, wheat is the only Kharif crop and accounts for 12 per cent of the agriculture sector. Previously, expectations of wheat output, given the water shortage, were not very optimistic and therefore its output during the current fiscal year was considered the main dampener in the country's GDP growth.

Pakistan incurs Rs450bn loss

Pakistan is suffering a colossal financial loss of Rs450 billion per annum due to poor quality of products and wastage of by-products.

This was stated by Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood while presiding over a meeting to give final touches to a plan for the registration of National Productivity Organization (NPO) as a 100 per cent public limited company.

The commerce ministry was currently procuring information from North Carolina state university and India on textile spinning sector that would be made available to the NPO and industrialists.

Govt evolving deregulation policy

Federal Minister for Commerce and Trade, Abdul Razak Dawood on Wednesday said that the government was sincerely evolving a de-regulation policy for pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Dawood said that all over the world, the governments were encouraging the policy of de-controlling and liberalization in pharma industry. He said this in a meeting with the representatives of pharmaceutical industry, said an official announcement.

The minister said 70 per cent of anomalies in tariff re- structuring have been removed. The minister said that he would make all out efforts to eliminate 100 per cent anomalies in tariff rationalization.

Impurities in cotton lowered to five grams

The joint government-Aptma programme to reduce cotton contamination through a supervised ginning project is said to have brought down the level of impurities in cotton to an average five grams a bale of 170kg from 20 grams in four districts of the province.

A leading spinner Gohar Ejaz, who has been associated with the project since its conception last year, told on Wednesday that farmers and ginners in Rahim Yar Khan, Lodhran, Sadiqabad and Bahawalpur had done a remarkable job by drastically reducing the level of contamination in cotton produced this year. The four districts together are stated to be producing some three million bales of cotton every year.

Smeda working out soft loans for powerlooms

Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) is networking between power loom units, banks (including the newly established SME Bank) and various government agencies and ministries to help the power-loom industry obtain soft loans to replace and upgrade their technology.

Some 225,000 power-looms are installed in the country producing roughly around 54 per cent of 4.40 billion square meters of fabric manufactured by both the organized and unorganized sectors every year, a Smeda official told on Friday.

It is significant to mention that some 125,000 power-looms are installed in Faisalabad alone. The rest of them are clustered mainly in Karachi, Multan, Kasur and Jhang.

Private sector to play big role: Shaukat

Pakistan's private sector will play a big role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan specially by taking part in the construction work and exporting all necessary goods and equipment to that war ravaged country.

"I have been assured by the European Union commissioner and finance ministers of many other countries in Tokyo that the private sector of Pakistan will have all the opportunities to take part in the reconstruction work in a big way", said Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz.

US team to look into specific projects

A 7-8 member delegation of the US Eximbank, OPIC and TDA will arrive on February 16 to look into specific projects in the private sector that could be financed and supported by the three official agencies.

The TDA (Trade Development Authority) funds feasibility reports, US Eximbank finances projects and the OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) provides insurance cover.