Russian company interested
to upgrade PSM’s power plant
ISLAMABAD (APP): Russia’s largest heavy machinery manufacturing company expressed its interest in maintenance and upgradation of  PSM power plant to increase its generation capacity. A Russian delegation here on Thursday met with Federal Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi.The upgradation would increase generation capacity of the plant and would ensure maximum productivity of PSM. The minister supported their initiative and stressed on the contribution to efficient performance of the organization through this proposal. He also emphasized that this project will result in reduced cost of production of electricity for PSM in future, allowing the organization to forward the benefit to the national grid in the long-run.

PIA employees’ salaries increased by 17 per cent
KARACHI (PR): The PIA management has made a 17 per cent adhoc increase in the salaries of PIA staff and officers. The PIA management fulfilled a long-standing demand for increase in salary of its employees in making the increase, which will be effective from May 2015. The step has been welcomed by the CBA and other associations, the staff employees of Pay group 1-IV as well as officers of Pay Group V – IX. The President of PIA’s Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA), Shamim Akmal, PIA SSA, Aqeel Siddiqui, President PIA Aircraft Technologists Association, Najeeb ur Rehman, President PACCA, Nasrullah Afridi and office bearers of CBA and Officers’ Associations have welcomed the increase.

Passco procures 307,363 metric tons wheat
ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) has procured about 307,363.400 metric tons of wheat on its procurement centers established in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces during the current wheat procurement campaign. An official of the Corporation told APP here on Thursday that about 248,175.500 metric tons of wheat has been procured from different areas of Punjab at official fixed rates. Whereas PASSCO has also procured about 48,925 metric tons of grains from Sindh and 10,262.400 metric tons wheat from the Balochistan during its procurement campaign for the year 2015-16, he added.
Meanwhile, the corporation has so far issued about 496,486.250 bardana (sacks) for the growers in Punjab and 72,693 sacks for the farmers of Sindh besides issuing about 13,646 sacks for the farmers of Balochistan to sell their produces at the centers of PASSCO, he added.
He said that PASSCO has distributed the Punjab province into 9 zones and established its centers where as one zone each in Sindh and Balochistan for wheat procurement.
He informed that PASSCO has completed 35 percent of wheat procurement operation in Punjab, 61 percent in Sindh and 57 percent in Balochistan for the recent season.
It may be recalled that PASSCO and Provincial Food Department Punjab have established over 500 wheat procurement centers for purchasing wheat during the current procurement campaign.
PASSCO had arranged about 8 million bags for the packing of over 800,000 tons of grains and it has set a target to distribute 70 percent of sacks in first 15 days of procurement campaign, he added.
PASSCO had established its centers in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces to facilitate the growers to sell their produces on official fixed rates.
He said that out of the total sacks, 92 percent would be provided for growers in Punjab and the remaining would be distributed in Sindh and Balochistan to facilitate the growers.
He informed that the government has so far assigned PASSCO to procure about 800,000 tons of wheat during current harvesting season to facilitate the farmers particularly small scale growers.
According to the procurement policy, the corporation would provide 8 bags per acre for small farmers to procure 20 maund per acre on first come and first serve basis, he added.
PASSCO will fulfill the 100 percent bags requirements of small farmers from saving them the exploitation of middle man and safeguarding the interest of farmers in the country.
Upto 25 acres, the farmers would be provided 200 bags in first stage to sell their produces on official fixed rate of Rs. 1300 per 40 kg as all provinces procure the grains as according to their annual demand and consumptions where as only PASSCO kept about 1 million tons as the national strategic reserves.
It is worth mentioning that government had set a target to cultivate wheat crop of over 9,810 thousand hectares during the crop season 2014-15 to produce 26 million tons as compared to last year’s output of 25 million tons.
Wheat cultivation targets for the Punjab Province were fixed at 6,600 thousand hectares, Sindh cultivation targets at 1,150 thousand hectares, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 760 thousand hectares and Balochistan’s crop cultivation targets fixed at 400 thousand hectares.

Oil prices steady after highs

LONDON (AFP): Oil prices steadied on Thursday, a day after reaching five-month high points following an unexpected drop in US crude inventories. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for June delivery dipped 13 cents to $60.80 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June rose 23 cents to stand at $68.70 a barrel in London midday deals. Brent had hit $69.63 and WTI reached $62.58 on Wednesday — the highest levels this year. Crude stockpiles tumbled by 3.9 million barrels in the week to May 1. Analysts had expected an increase of 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News poll. Despite the decline, at 487.0 million barrels of crude, the stockpiles were at their highest level on record for this time of year.
And US crude-oil production slipped only marginally to 9.4 million barrels per day.
“Prices have come off because markets had been anticipating that US production numbers would have come down lower,” Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures, told AFP.
Weak US economic data released Wednesday was also weighing on oil prices, Ang said.
Non-farm productivity fell 1.9 percent in the first quarter year-on-year. It was the second straight quarterly fall.
Payroll firm ADP meanwhile reported the United States added just 169,000 private-sector jobs in April, the second month in a row under 200,000, as the oil sector downturn continued to pinch the labour market.
Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at business consultancy EY, said “the short-term price outlook awaits the US weekly rig count to be released on Friday for a further gauge on supply levels”.

SBP lifts moratorium on KASB Bank

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): The State Bank of Pakistan has informed the depositors of KASB Bank Limited (“the bank”) that scheme of amalgamation of the bank has been approved by the Federal Government. In terms of the amalgamation scheme, KASB Bank Limited has been merged with and into BankIslami Pakistan Limited. Accordingly, the moratorium placed on former KASB Bank Limited has been lifted with immediate effect. The depositors of the former KASB Bank Limited are now depositors of BankIslami Pakistan Limited and are free to operate their accounts maintained at the respective branches of the former KASB Bank Limited as per their convenience.

State Bank of Pakistan acknowledges the patience shown by the depositors of the former KASB Bank Limited as well as their confidence on the regulator during moratorium period.
State Bank of Pakistan reiterates its commitment to safeguard the interests of depositors and to ensure safety and soundness of the banking system of the country.