Interest rates rise could thwart G20 growth goal

SYDNEY (AFP): The G20’s pledge to boost growth could be wiped out by rising interest rates and weakening emerging economies, an IMF report said, as chief Christine Lagarde warned Thursday of “slow” progress in reaching the goal. Lagarde said there was uncertainty over whether the group of 20 leading economies had the will to meet their two per cent additional growth target, which they agreed to at a meeting of finance ministers in February in Sydney. “I am not going to point the finger at any of the members but ... it  has been slow in the making that’s for sure,” the International Monetary Fund’s managing director told The Australian Financial Review.“

There is a lot of pressure on finance ministers to come up with actual measures.”

The IMF said in its report that changing growth patterns could slow global growth by as much as 2.0 per cent—the same figure the G20 countries had vowed to lift their economies by over the next five years.

BoI approves Special Economic Zone at Port Qasim

ISLAMABAD (APP): Board of Investment (BoI) has approved establishment of Special Economic Zone at Port Qasim in Karachi.  The Bin Qasim Industrial Park will spread over an area of 930 acres near Port Qasim which will cost about ten billion rupees. The step has been taken to provide facilities to the investors at one place for promoting investment in the country, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.  The government expects fifty billion rupees direct investments in this special economic zone that will contribute one hundred billion rupees to the overall size of the economy and generate direct employment for 50,000 people. 

The project has been designed to cater to the needs of medium and large entrepreneurs aspiring to invest in the engineering and steel industry of Pakistan.

The proposed industrial clusters will include engineering and equipment units, foundries and steel fabricating units, light engineering units and furniture and woodworks units. It will also host chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals and beverage industries.

Small Software Technology Parks

to be upgraded into ICT Parks

ISLAMABAD (APP): Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom is to shift small Software Technology Parks into ICT Parks to encourage emerging technologies.  The proposed ICT Parks would be developed with state-of-the-art infrastructure, aiming to bring together world-class technology in a multi-purpose environment.  The Ministry has said in addition to IT companies, enterprises from a wide spectrum of sectors will be encouraged to locate to the ICT parks.  This would help encourage Research & Development centers to facilitate the IT, telecom, pharma, medical devices, biotechnology & nano-technology, banking and space sector as well as promotion of renewable energy.

The World Bank has expressed its desire to invest up-to forty five million dollars in this project.

Biometric verification essential for new mobile SIMs

ISLAMABAD (APP): The government has made biometric verification essential for activation of new mobile SIMs.  According to a spokesperson of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the scheme will come into effect from Friday. The spokesman said only those customer service centers of mobile companies, franchises and authorized retail outlets will be allowed sale of mobile SIMs and customer services activities, which are equipped with bio-metric verification machines, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday. From Friday onwards, mobile SIMs would be sold to those customers who  will successfully pass through thumb and NADRA Computerized National Identity Card verification process.

The step has been taken in line with national security interests so to avoid any untoward incident in the future.

Rs35b to be spent on irrigation during current financial year

ISLAMABAD (Online): Over Rs35b have been allocated for irrigation projects during the current financial year to boost agriculture production in the country. According to state-run radio, these projects include small and medium dams, check and delay action dams, canals, lining of irrigation channels and improvement of existing irrigation system. The programme for lining of irrigation channels in saline zones is continuing in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to check for seepage. A sum of Rs4,380m has been earmarked for this programme.  Remaining work of Phase-I of Kachhi and Rainee canals, and Extension of Pat Feeder Canal in Balochistan is also continuing for their timely completion.

In addition to this, adequate funds have also been provided for revamping and rehabilitation of irrigation system of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.