Cement sector thriving on the cost of masses

ISLAMABAD (NNI): The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday called for some kind of control over cement sector which continue to thrive on the cost of masses and construction industry providing employment to millions. Cement industry continue to increase prices without any justification which amount to plundering masses while Competition Commission of Pakistan and other concerned departments prefer to remain silent spectators, it said. International prices of oil and coal have come down substantially but the cement industry has not provided any relief to masses rather it continue to increase prices, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

Talking to the representatives of construction industry, he said that increasing cement prices pose a threat to economic corridor, mega project and construction activities.

A bag of cement that was available for Rs 350 in October 2011 now costs Rs 530 while cement industry is planning another hike, he said.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that increasing prices have reduced export of cement considerably which must be noticed. During six month to December 2015 the cement exports dwindled by over a million tonnes due to high prices, he said.

Year ago the Competition Commission slapped a fine on Rs6 billion on cement cartel but the decision was reversed after interference by the then finance minister. Since then, the CCP has decided not to check the influential sectors involved in unfair business practices.

He noted that the cement cartel increased prices by 26 percent in one year boosting profit almost seven fold but the authorities decided to ignore the matter.

The cartel must be punished and import of cement should be encouraged to protect masses, he demanded.

IT exports can easily touch

$3 billion mark

ISLAMABAD (NNI): President Society Watch Khalid Mahmoud on Sunday said IT exports can be increased to three billion dollars per annum easily which requires some attention of the authorities. Currently documented exports stands at $500 million while undocumented exports have been estimated at 1.5 billion dollars that can be brought into tax net, it said. Incoherent laws, ill-defined taxation issues, market access, human resource and infrastructure are some issue which are blocking development of this sector, he said. Khalid Mehmood said that many companies are shifting their offices abroad due to absence of enabling environment and federal as well as provincial taxation issues which are confusing.

He said that government should ensure proper environment for this sector and extent income tax exemption for next five years which will encourage this sector.

Promulgation of laws awaiting approval since long and problems in software registration continue to discourage IT programmers and companies to invest heavily in research and development.

There are over three thousand IT companies and over one hundred thousand freelancers working in this sector that need encouragement which can earn foreign exchange.

He said that Indian official IT exports stands at 100 billion dollars due to government’s backing therefore Pakistan should also do the same.

Growers urged to cultivate

potato by 31st

FAISALABAD (APP): The agriculture experts have advised the growers of irrigated zones to complete cultivation of potato crops by January 31 to get bumper yield.Spokesman of the agriculture extension department told here Sunday that potato is used largely in Pakistan because it is a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, potassium and sodium etc. The farmers should cultivate approved varieties of potato over maximum space because its production not only plays a pivotal role in meeting the food requirements of the people but it is help the growers in mitigating his financial issues, he said.

Among the approved varieties of potato include C-919, C-922, C-707, C-2115, C-9041, P-3163, P-3203 and Ghauri, he added.

70 per cent lining work of five canals completed

MULTAN (APP): About 70 percent concrete lining work at five perennial canals of Multan canal division has been completed. According to Irrigation department sources here, Multan canal division had selected five perennial canals for concrete lining with estimated cost of Rs 315 million. The five canals which were selected included Choppar Hatta with cost of Rs 103 mln, Walli Muhammad cost of Rs 49.201m, Rana Minor cost of Rs 55.940 mln, Hamid Pur minor with cost of Rs 41.796 mln and Faiz Pur disty with cost of Rs 64.858 mln. The purpose of the canal's concrete lining was to strengthen them and providing water to tail-end growers properly. The concrete lining work would be completed by July-30,2016.

National cellular traffic

shows growth

Islamabad (Staff Reporter): Mobile phone user’s made 19 percent more calls from their cell phones in year 2015 as compared to previous year. According to Pakistan Telecommunication data, monthly average outgoing minutes increased from 219 minutes in 2013-14 to 261 minutes in 2014-15. In year 2012-13, the average outgoing minutes per subscriber per month were 203, while in 2011-12 they were 141. The numbers of minutes in year 2010-11 were merely 114. The total outgoing national cellular traffic to fixed and mobile networks also showed growth to 393.5 billion minutes during 2014-15, as compared to 345.7 billion minutes in 2013-14. Last year, consumers also used more text messages from their cell phones.

A total of 393 billion SMS were exchange during FY 2014-15, as compared to 301.7 billion SMS during the previous year, which is an increase of around 30 percent. The numbers of messages sent by each subscriber per month also showed a slight increase. During 2014-15 average monthly SMS went to 187, from 180.