Strategy being devised to improve working of govt depts: Ahsan

LAHORE (INP): Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has underlined the need for improvement in performance of government departments and institutions to ensure sustained development. Speaking at a function in Lahore on Saturday, he invited all segments of the society to present proposals for enhancing efficacy of the government departments. He said strenuous efforts are underway to create conducive environment for attracting local and foreign investment. Later talking to newsmen, he said that the government is trying to form a consensus to bring a constitutional amendment for rooting out horse trading.

He said government is in touch with all parliamentary parties and reservations of some parties will be removed.

To a question, he said that measures are being taken to bring transparency at every level to ensure good governance in the country.

Ahsan Iqbal said that a strategy is being devised for improving the working and efficiency of government departments.

Ahsan Iqbal said the country’s exports will have to be increased from the present twenty-five billion dollars to one hundred and fifty billion dollars by 2025.

Saudi Arabia allows foreign workers

to change their job

JEDDAH (NNI): Saudi Arabia has given permission employees from Pakistan and other countries to switch their job if their companies violate laws regarding income protection. The permission will be applicable for only those companies which are violating the labour laws of the Kingdom allowing employees from abroad to join any other company without permission and consent of their employers. According to Arab News, Muneef Al-Harbi, Director of the Wage Program at the Ministry, said that employees rights should be protected under the ministry’s wage protection programme.

The programme aims at collecting data about Saudi and foreign employees salaries, so that their rights could be protected.

The project administration is also determined to stop delaying activation of wage card of staff. In addition, measures would also be taken for ending opposition of opening bank account despite the marginal salary amount.

The Labor Office in Riyadh has launched the 5th stage of the wage protection program (WPP) for having more than 320 workers.

The Labor Office plans to open a 25-counter room at the Inspection Office to receive inquiries raised by private sector firms on problems related to the application of the program, said Abdullah Al-Olayan, director general of the ministry’s branch office in Riyadh.

The staff of the unit is empowered to tackle obstacles facing employers, notably complications arising from the application of the program at the Ministry’s website or errors on the wage lists submitted by the banks, he said. The ministry is ready to respond to any difficulties in the WPP system - still in its early stages, he said.

The program is originally meant to document and authenticate wage data of Saudis and foreigners working in the private sector. The ministry was keen to see the program easy to apply in coordination with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Al-Harbi said.

Later, a discussion was opened between businessmen and ministry representatives. The discussion, run by the Head of Committee of Human Resources at RCCI Mansour Al-Shathry, dealt with problems related to delay in activation of the employees’ wage cards and, sometimes, reluctance of banks to accept workers of low salaries. Labor officials promised to solve such problems with SAMA.

Skilful artisans at Expo 2015

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): Inspiring craft work of the skilful artisans from the marginalised and less privileged areas of rural Sindh is being showcased at 9th Expo Pakistan 2015 from February 26. The purpose is to introduce the hand made products of the women artisans to the international market and in the process transform the artisans to organise their business in a formal way. The Oxfam Novib’s EU funded EQUATE project has also been showcased at the exhibition and demonstrated the very real potential of TVET to promote formal employment by the way of empowering poor people. Iqbal Ahmed, Advisor Education, TVET thanked the sponsor TDAP for arranging the exhibition and facilitating participations of artisans.

 especially women from remote impoverished villages to bustling city of Karachi to see and feel the market and added that people are its greatest asset and the demographic dividend can produce a virtuous cycle of economic growth.

Up to $7m fruits, vegetables exports

orders expected from Expo 2015

KARACHI (APP): Five to seven million dollars import orders for fruits and vegetables are expected to be received before the end of 4-day 9th Expo Pakistan 2015 that began on Thursday last at Expo Centre Karachi. Waheed Ahmed, Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Fruits and Vegetables Exports, and co-chairman All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Merchants Association, talking to APP at the Expo said that fruits and vegetables exports have increased 15 per cent increase every year and hoped this rate will be higher in future. “Last year, the exports from our sector were dollars 625m which are expected to boost to dollars 1.5b in three years­.”

He said the delegates mainly from South America and Africa have shown great interest. However, follow-ups and exchange of delegations were needed to properly introduce Pakistani fruits and vegetable in the international market.

He said they have gone to value-addition that is, mango and guava pulp, tomato paste and apple juice, besides initiating research and development (R&D) on dates.

He called upon the government to focus on R&D to get higher yield of fruits and vegetable for boosting exports along with welfare of growers. This should include introduction of drip irrigations system and a strong check over wastage of water in fields. The government should bring better polices on growing and marketing sides of fruits and vegetable to exploit the real potential of this sector, he said.

He said after four years, with improvement in power supply position, the exporters of fruits and vegetable would go for value-addition at a large scale and that would increase exports to at least $ 200 billion.

Waheed Ahmed said the association was trying to enter African markets. At present, the buyers are Russia, United Arab Emerirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Philpine, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Canada.

Recent rains to prove natural

fertilizer for winter crops

ISLAMABAD (APP): The recent winter rain spells will prove as natural fertilizer for the winter season crops, particularly wheat, mustard and grams, Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan said. He hoped that the winter rains will also help allay farmers fears of poor crop output or their failure on account of poor and delayed rains during the sowing season of the winter crops, mainly in rain-fed areas in country’s north. But now they are happy over profuse rains over last two weeks, he said. This week’s lashing rains accompanied by hailstorm in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and adjoining areas were unusual in terms of their intensity and timing but direly needed for the winter crops, mainly in rain-fed areas.

Few years ago, rains of such intensity were common during the sowing of the winter crops. But they are getting late due to weird climatic changes, he observed.

The Minister said that previously what would happen was that winter rains would begin in last weeks of December and grow intense gradually in January and then their intensity would start from mid-February. But now such trend of winter rainfall has become late by 21 to 25 days as weather experts indicate.

Mushahid Ullah Khan remarked that the rains in the country were becoming erratic, unpredictable because of changing weather patterns caused by climate change. However, there was need for farmers to adapt to the shifting changing weather patterns and grow their crops accordingly.

He urged the technical experts of agriculture and irrigation departments to help farmers to adapt to these rapidly shifting weather patterns, so that they can stave off crop failures or productivity losses.

These experts also need to collaborate with weather experts at the Pakistan Meteorological Department to bridge gap between farmers and the weather forecasts so that these weather forecasts are timely communicated to farmers through communication channels, he stressed and argued the timely communication of the weather forecasts will help farmers in adaptation to the changing climate.