Experts for modernising agriculture

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): Experts and industry stakeholders emphasized the need for modernizing the agriculture in the country during a three-day Agriculture Conference. The event, according to statement, was held at Bahauddin Zakriya University in Multan, which was attended by more than 5,000 farmers with over 60 businesses exhibiting on the occasion. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture (MNSUA) Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Asif highlighted various initiatives being undertaken by the Government of Punjab to address cotton productivity challenges in the province. "Research on new and improved seed varieties is already underway, and together with the introduction of Plant Breeders Rights Act, farmers will have access to quality seed in the coming years", he said. Monsanto Pakistan's Corporate Engagement Lead Azeem Niazi said: "The future of agriculture hinges upon our ability to adopt modern agriculture technologies; however, if real gains are to be made, our policy and regulatory framework must keep pace with the rapidly evolving agriculture sector."

He said "The enactment of Plant Breeders Rights Act is one such positive step towards creating a business enabling environment for the industry, however, adequate implementation remains a concern due to the lack of institutional capacity."

Jica to study water resource management

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) mission working in Iraq will send its five-member team this month to study water resource management and governance in Pakistan and especially the Punjab. The mission will also examine the details of participatory irrigation management model in the province through the platform of Punjab Irrigation and Drainage Authority (PIDA), said PIDA spokesman. He said the study mission will be comprised of three officials from Ministry of Water Resources of Iraq along with two Japanese water experts. The mission will visit University of Agriculture Faisalabad, offices of area water board LCC (West) Circle, Faisalabad and farmer organization at Nasrana Distributor on April 12. PIDA Deputy GM Shaiq Hussain Abidi will act as coordinator to the delegation. The participatory model of irrigation is being practiced successfully in the Punjab for the last more than 15 years through active participation of farmers who are managing their different canal affairs by themselves, according to the spokesman.

FPCCI for withdrawing import duty on coal

KARACHI (INP): Syed Mazhar Ali Nasir, senior vice president of FPCCI, has urged Miftah Ismail, Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, and Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Federal Minister for Commerce, to withdraw the 5% import duty on coal and allow its imports duty free to make the production of electricity through coal viable and save the huge investment made in the coal based power projects. The FPCCI senior vice president argued that a serious distortion has been created in the production of electricity through imported coal mainly due to 14% rise in C&F price of imported coal from $19/MT to $103/MT during the last nine months. Moreover, recent devaluation of Pak Rupee against US Dollar by more than 10% has further eroded the competitive edge of production of electricity through imported coal and rendered the industry at the verge of collapse, he added.“Resultantly, the industry will have no option but either to shift on national grid again exerting unbearable load on WAPDA or to shut down the industry for economic reasons”, he concluded.

LCCI vows to solve problems of traders

LAHORE (APP): Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) President Malik Tahir Javaid said on Monday that the Lahore Chamber would continue its efforts to get solved the business community's problems including withholding tax on bank transactions, simplification of taxation system, traffic jams around busy markets, and misuse of discretionary powers by tax officials. Talking to a delegation of traders, led by Baber Mahmood here at LCCI, he said that business community must have representation in parliament that would be equally beneficial for both traders and economy. LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid also spoke on the occasion. Malik Tahir was of the view that representation of business community in the parliament would ensure formulation of trade and industry-friendly policies and help economy flourish at a faster pace. He said that withholding tax on banking transaction was hampering trade and economic activities, therefore, it must be withdrawn in the larger interest of businessmen.

Though expansion of tax net was need of the hour, the authorities concerned would have to bring the untaxed sectors into the tax net, he maintained.

Head of the delegation Baber Mahmood lauded the efforts of Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry for the cause of business community and assured his full cooperation.