APCMA demands regulatory duty on cement import from Iran

Lahore (Staff Reporter): All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association has appealed to the Ministry of Finance to impose regulatory duty on cement imports from Iran to save the local industry. Chairman APCMA, Mohammad Ali Tabba said that cement imports from Iran have touched alarming levels. ‘Over the last year larger and larger quantities are arriving daily and now the quantities are at an alarmingly high level reaching about 2,000 tons per day.   He added that despite statutory custom duty of 20%, the Iranian cement is selling at the price levels of 40% below the retail price of domestically produced cement, in the Baluchistan market due to connivance of custom officials.

‘As a result the local market in the areas adjacent to the Iranian border as well as the coastal area of Baluchistan are flooded with Iranian cement,’ he added. It is to be noted that cement imports from Iran are coming through the Iran-Pakistan border via land routes and through railway.

Consequently, domestically produced cement is fast losing market as it is unable to compete with this Iranian cement because of the evasion of duties and taxes. Secondly they are also not complaint with PSQCA. The authority must not allow import of cement from Iran unless it is fully complaint with duties and taxes and certification from PSQCA.

Farmers of Pothohar region to get free olive saplings from Feb 15

RAWALPINDI (APP): Under the five-year (2015-2020) plan, the Punjab govt would provide two million olive saplings free of cost to the farmers of Pothohar region. Under the first phase, the plantation campaign would formally be launched on Feb15. Talking to APP, Director, Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) Dr. Muhammad Tariq said that applications were invited in December, 2015 for provision of olive saplings from the eligible farmers of Pothohar region, which includes Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jehlum, Attock and Khushab Districts. The programme is being launched on the direction of Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, which is aimed at promoting local production of olive oil and curtailing import bill of edible oil.

The applicant would be required to pay the expenditure incurred on transportation and pit digging for planting saplings in the orchard.

The growers would be offered subsidy in accordance with the set rules and procedure and they would fully comply with the recommendations of the Provincial Agriculture Department.

The Director BARI informed that the scrutiny and selection of applications was carried out till December 31, 2015 and provision of saplings to the selected growers would start from February 15 till end of March.

He said during this phase around 0.27 million saplings would be distributed among the eligible applicants. He said for the purpose the Punjab Agriculture Depatrment has imported high quality saplings from world recognized countries for the production of olive.

Poultry industry can help earn hefty foreign exchange

ISLAMABAD (APP): The poultry industry of the country can help the government to earn hefty foreign exchange through various initiatives. The Rs 700 billion poultry industry is providing jobs to million and catering for the need of protein of whole population of the country deserves encouragement, said Chairman of the United International Group Mian Shahid in a statement here on Sunday. He said the prices of poultry should be brought down through relief in taxes to enable poor to get full benefit of the cheapest source of animal protein. Mian Shahid said that beef was costly, mutton was out of reach of majority while the consumption of fish in Pakistan was only two kg per capita which was lowest in the world.

The situation has left around 90 percent of the population to rely on poultry to get animal protein which is 10 percent lower than the normal limit in an average person.

He said that poultry industry was growing by 10 to 12 percent annually despite all odds which must be protected and promoted so that it could continue to serve masses.

He said that per capita egg consumption in developed countries stood at 300 to 400 eggs while the average rate was Rs 60 per dozen in Pakistan which needed to be improved.

US provides subsidy to 360 billion dollars on food products to keep its population healthy, Saudi Arabia gives 50 percent subsidy on poultry products while Pakistan is yet to take meaningful steps in that direction, Mian Shahid added.

He said that decent, healthy and sufficient diet should be in reach of the masses to save them from disease, low productivity and compromise growth rate.

Population is growing but per acre yield is stagnant since some years which can result in food security situation.

47pc work completed on Tarbela 4th extension project

ISLAMABAD (APP): Under Tarbela 4th Extension Power Project, 47 per cent work has been completed so far and the Project will be accomplished by June 2017. Talking to APP, Project Director Tarbela 4th Extension Power Project Shoail Khan said that the project would cost $ 920 million and additional 1410 MW cheaper hydel electricity would be generated. He said that earlier the project was scheduled to be completed in 2018, but on the directive of the prime minister, work was expedited on the project and now it would be ready by June 2017. Sohail Khan said that the World Bank was providing $ 840 million for the project while Water and Power Development Authority arranged the remaining $ 80 million.

He said that three units of 370 MW each would be installed at the power house which would enhance the total electricity generation to 4888 MW from the existing 3478 MW.

Dilating upon the benefits of the project, he said that the project having three units of 370MW each would produce 3,840GWh of cheap hydropower at a time when electricity needs would be at peak in hot and humid weather.

Annual benefits of the project have been estimated at around Rs 30.7 billion. The project will pay back its cost in just three years.

Mobile phone imports reach $375m in six months

ISLAMABAD (APP): Mobile phone imports in Pakistan have reached $375.063m during first half (July-Dec) of current fiscal year, showing 7.9pc increase as compared to same period of previous year. Total imports of mobile phone stood at $347.564m in same period last year. Overall telecom imports saw significant decline of 7.43pc during July-December 2015-16 compared to the same period in last year and total imports were recorded at US$ 695.334 million compared to $751.124 million in same period last year. Other telecom apparatus import also witnessed significant decline of 20.64 percent during this period as it stood at $320.271 million during July-Dec (2015-16) against $403.56 million during same period of last year.

The telecom experts on Sunday emphasized the need to ensure more facilities in the area and connectivity coverage may be expanded to under-served and un-served areas of the country.

Meanwhile, mobile phone users in Pakistan have reached 124.24 million at the end of November 2015, after five mobile phone companies added a combined user base of 1.64 million customers during the reported month.

Mobilink leads the charts with 35.67 million customers while Telenor is closing in the gap with 34.24 million subscribers.

Zong has 24.05 million customers at the end of Nov 2015 while Ufone stood with 19.66 million customers till the time.