Pakistan In Focus

Pakistan needs to upgrade agriculture sector

Pakistan needs to upgrade the agriculture sector through the use of modern technology, said Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam. Chairing a conference on “Food Security vis-a-vis Sustainable Agriculture in Pakistan: Policy Outcomes and Prospects” on Wednesday, he said “We can apply different methodologies to smaller areas that can be replicated on a larger scale upon success to multiply their benefits for the people.” The minister said that around 38 percent of the population was employed in the agriculture sector, “which increases the significance of this sector”. “Currently, we are using one-fourth of our geographical land for cultivation of five major crops, which are still dominated by wheat,” he said.

Business community worried over growing debt

The Total debt of the central government has increased by more than 11 percent in the last one year, which should be a matter of concern for the policymakers, said Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir. Talking to a business delegation on Wednesday, the ICCI chief said that the rising debt burden would consume most of the financial resources on debt servicing and would leave insufficient budget for development projects, thus affecting economic growth of the country. Urging the government to formulate a comprehensive strategy, he lamented that the total debt of the central government had surged to Rs39.77 trillion by August 2021 from Rs35.66 trillion a year ago. In the same month, the external debt increased to Rs13.436 trillion from Rs12.123 trillion in August 2020.

Shaukat asks Sindh, Balochistan to stabilise wheat prices

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has commended the government of Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration for daily release of wheat at government’s specified price, which has eased pressure on prices of wheat flour. Chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) at the Finance Division on Wednesday, he took strict notice of the prices prevailing in Sindh and Balochistan. He urged chief secretaries of the two provinces to initiate daily release of wheat to stabilise prices of the commodity. At present, the price differential is clearly visible in Punjab and other provinces. The NPMC stressed the need to ensure a smooth supply of wheat at the government’s notified price throughout the country.

Chinese companies interested to revive steel mill

Three Chinese companies including Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) have shown interest in reviving Pakistan’s largest steel manufacturing complex – Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). By promoting the local economy and helping to improve social welfare, MCC is dedicated to become a model business with respect to boosting economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. As a state-owned company in the iron and steel industry, MCC was one of the earliest Chinese enterprises to operate businesses and projects in Pakistan. In 1990, MCC managed the construction of Saindak Copper-Gold Mine based on an engineering, procurement and construction contract. Saindak Copper-Gold Mine made a steady profit for 18 consecutive years and became a major driver of the local economy. It was praised by the governments on both sides of the border and they termed it a model of China-Pakistan economic cooperation.

Senate panel seeks details of power plants

The Senate Standing Committee on Power has sought details of power plants which were shut down on the directive of Cabinet Committee on Energy, installation cost of these plants and future strategy. The Senate committee, which met on Wednesday and headed by Chairman Senator Saifullah Abro, sought names of all those who had served on boards of these generation companies (Gencos) since 2000 and a report on the losses suffered by the companies. The committee noted that the objectives for which Genco Holding Company was set up in 2012 could not be achieved. The CEO of Genco Holding Company, while highlighting the issues that caused the closure of power plants, said that the government had closed SPS Faisalabad, GTPS Faisalabad, FBC Lakhra, EGPS Peran Ghaib Multan and GTPS Shahdara. The production capacity of those power plants was 1,796 megawatts.

State Bank moves to curb foreign currency outflow

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has introduced new regulatory measures to curb the undesirable outflow of foreign currency and to enhance transparency in foreign currency transactions by exchange companies. According to a statement issued by the central bank on Wednesday, people travelling to Afghanistan will be allowed to carry only $1,000 per person per visit with maximum annual limit of $6,000. The central bank directed the exchange companies to sell foreign currency and make outward remittances, equivalent to $10,000 and above, against receipt of funds through cheque or banking channels only. “Exchange companies will be required to conduct biometric verification for all foreign currency sale transactions equivalent to $500 and above and outward remittances,” it said.

Higher cotton output may lead to 5pc growth

Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will rise past 5 percent in the current fiscal year, supported by higher output of cotton, which is a key non-food crop of the country, predicted the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma). “Cotton arrivals from farms are up by 100 percent to 3.8 million bales,” the association said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it would help the country to exceed 5 percent GDP growth as well as increase exports. By October 1, over 3.846 million bales of cotton had arrived in local markets as compared to 1.907 million bales by the same time in the previous year. “Around 100 new textile mills will be established in the country under the new textile policy, which will help in raising exports by over $20 billion,” an official of the association said.

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