Pesco to distribute energy savers to lessen burden on system

PESHAWAR (APP): The Ministry of Water & Power and PEPCO have initiated yet another step to overcome the crisis of loadshedding by planning to distribute millions of energy saver bulbs (CFL) to lessen the load on the system with the collaboration of Asian Development Bank & French Agency for Development. A press release of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) on Saturday said that the distribution of energy savers started the other day countrywide. In Pesco Chief Engineer Operation Nadim Anwar will supervise the distribution of energy savers among Pesco consumers.

The first batch of distribution of energy savers in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa would be initiated in 147 sub divisions where each non defaulting consumer would get two energy saver bulbs free of charge in return of two used ordinary bulbs. The Pesco in initiative step distributed at Pandu Road and Hayatabad.

In first phase 1.3 million energy savers will be distributed while 2.6 million energy savers will be distributed in 2nd phase in KP. It was expected that with the completion of this project 1000MW of electricity will be conserved.

Pesco has appealed its consumers to conserve energy to the maximum extent and use energy savers for energy conservation in the national interest.

Scientists urged to work for food security

FAISALABAD (APP): It is a matter of grave concern that food insecurity is haunting 60 per cent of the population in Pakistan and agriculture scientists should work to boost production to feed the increasing population. This was stressed by Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice Chancellor (VC) University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), while addressing an oath taking ceremony of the Pakistan Society of Agronomy (PSA) at New Senate Hall here on Saturday. Dr Iqrar said agronomy played a vital role in increasing productivity amid climate change and cropping systems. He also stressed adopting latest practices for better produce.

He said the world population would touch nine billion by 2050. The growing population is posing a threat to food insecurity while climate change is damaging the productivity, he added.

Department of Agronomy Chairman/PSA President Prof Dr Ehsan Ullah said that increase in global food production in the past decades had largely been due to better crop management and advances in agronomy. However, consistent efforts are needed to meet food requirements of the growing population, he added.

Foremr PSA President Dr Hafiz Muhammad Akram said that the Pakistan Society of Agronomy aimed at promoting agronomic research, disseminating scientific information and providing opportunities for cooperation and frequent interaction among agronomist working in different organizations.

Carmakers rack up big gains in 2013 US sales

CHICAGO (AFP): Major automakers closed out 2013 with mixed results for December US sales Friday, as the booming auto industry racked up its best annual performance in years. “The auto industry was a consistent bright spot in the economic recovery throughout 2013,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota division. “We expect the economy will continue to gain strength in 2014, with car sales rising to pre-recession levels.” Total industry sales rose 7.6to 15.6 million vehicles in 2013, according to Autodata. The last time annual US auto sales topped 15 million vehicles was in 2007. 

They slowly recovered to 14.8 million in 2012 after crashing to a low of 10.6 million in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, which pushed the industry into a deep downturn.

In the 14 years prior to the 2008 crash, annual US auto sales had ranged from 15 to 17 million vehicles.

“2013 was the year that GM and the auto industry put the last traces of the recession in the rearview mirror,” said General Motors US sales chief Kurt McNeil.

“Now we can devote our full attention to the things that matter most to customers: compelling design, world-class quality and delivering the best ownership experience in the business.”

December sales were weaker than expected as a result of brutal winter storms and Thanksgiving discounts which had drawn shoppers to showrooms in November, McNeil said in a conference call.

GM reported a sevenincrease in 2013 US sales to 2.8 million vehicles despite a sixdrop in December sales to 230,157.

Ford posted its best annual performance since 2006 as US sales jumped 11to 2.5 million vehicles in 2013. December sales rose a more modest twofrom the same period a year ago to come in at 218,058.

“December was a strong close to an even better year for Ford,” sales chief John Felice said. “We saw strong growth across the entire Ford lineup and made significant gains in the import-dominated coastal markets.”

Toyota posted a sevengain in 2013 as US sales rose to 2.2 million vehicles—despite a twodrop in December sales to 190,843.

Chrysler reported its 45th consecutive month of gains as December US sales rose sixto 161,007. Its 2013 sales were up nineat 1.8 million.

Honda managed to top the record it set last December as US sales grew twoto 135,255 vehicles. Its 2013 sales rose sevento 1.5 million, the Japanese automaker’s second highest annual tally.

“Breaking our December sales record is a great way to finish a near-record year,” said American Honda sales chief John Mendel.

“In a hotly competitive market, where every manufacturer brought their best products, our core models demonstrated significant growth without having to resort to fleet sales to drive volume as some of our competitors do.”

Nissan posted its best annual US sales ever with a nineincrease to 1.2 million vehicles. Its December sales were up 11from the previous year at 109,758.

Hyundai’s sales were up fivefor the year at 720,783 after gaining sixin December to 63,005 while Kia sales rose threeto 535,179 in 2013 after falling 14in December to 33,631.

Volkswagen bucked the upward trend by posting a sevendrop in annual US sales to 407,704 vehicles in 2013, while December sales fell 23to 34,015.

But the German automaker celebrated the fact that—for the first time in 40 years—it managed to sell more than 400,000 vehicles in back-to-back years and nonetheless posted its second best US December performance since 1972.

“Volkswagen is now operating at a new plateau,” Mark McNabb, chief operating officer of Volkswagen of America, said in a statement.

“We are well positioned for our next phase of growth to come over the next few years.”

Bernanke urges more action to cement economic recovery

WASHINGTON (AFP):  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who steps down at the end of January, called Friday for more action to ensure the United States recovers from the economic and financial crisis. In a speech at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bernanke retraced the eight years he spent at the helm of the US central bank as it tackled the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. “Needless to say, my tenure has been eventful—for the Federal Reserve, for the country, and for me personally,” Bernanke said, according to the text of his speech.

“We took extraordinary measures to meet extraordinary economic challenges,” said the chairman, who will be succeeded on February 1 by his vice chair, Janet Yellen, pending her approval by the Senate.

Highlighting that the US unemployment rate fell from 10in 2009 to 7.0recently, Bernanke nevertheless insisted: “Much progress has been made, but more remains to be done. “

The jobless rate “still is elevated,” he said, reiterating concerns about the “unusually high” number of long-term unemployed and declining participation in the labor force, in part probably due to workers discouraged by poor job prospects.

Bernanke said that an important factor holding back the economy was “disappointing” productivity growth.

“The reasons for weak productivity growth are not entirely clear,” he said.

He said it may be the result of the severity of the financial crisis that tightened credit conditions, inhibiting innovation, or may reflect longer-term trends unrelated to the recession.

“Obviously, the resolution of the productivity puzzle will be important in shaping our expectations for longer-term growth.”

He said the Fed’s decision in mid-December to modestly taper its $85 billion a month asset-purchase program did not indicate any lesser commitment to maintain an easy-money policy “for as long as needed.”

Instead, the taper “reflected the progress we have made toward our goal of substantial improvement in the labor market outlook that we set out when we began the current purchase program in September 2012.”

The Fed intends to keep its key interest rate near zero “well past” the time that the unemployment threshold of 6.5is crossed, he said, particularly if inflation continues to run below 2.0 .

Bernanke emphasized his efforts to make the central bank more transparent, saying it had been one of his initial goals when he took the post in February 2006, just as the housing price bubble collapsed and triggered the financial crisis.

Brazil’s economy to improve in 2014: finance minister

BRASïLIA (AFP): Investment and stronger exports will see Brazil’s economy improve in 2014, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Friday. Mantega, aiming to lift some of the gloom a day after Brazil unveiled its worst trade balance in 13 years, revealed the country had surpassed its primary fiscal surplus target. He said the surplus-the amount by which revenue exceeds expenditure before debt payments-had come in at 75 billion reais ($31.5 billion) - two billion ahead of its target. The finance minister admitted that the $2.56 billion trade surplus in 2013, the lowest since 2000, was disappointing. But “the balance will improve with increased oil production and derived products,” he insisted.

He said Brazil will also be able to boost exports thanks to growing economic confidence in the United States and Europe, where demand for raw materials-of which Brazil is a major producer-should be back on the rise. “The Brazilian economy is on a positive trajectory ... 2014 will be tangibly better than 2013,” Mantega told a news conference.

Official forecasts see GDP, which rose barely onein 2012, as growing 2.3when 2013’s final data arrives.

They predict a 4.0advance for 2014.

Mantega said what he saw as healthy fiscal results had been helped by a range of factors including resilient growth and higher tax receipts.

A raft of tax concessions “are working,” he added. The primary fiscal surplus amounts to around 1.5of gross domestic product and relieved the market in what is an election year.

With a presidential vote due in October, leftist President Dilma Rousseff is widely expected to run again and win a second term.

Mantega added he believed inflation, which outpaced an official 4.5target last year by more than one age point, was under control.

Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest economy and Latin America’s biggest, is offering concessions on infrastructure, natural resources and transport as it tries to reduce the state’s burden of spending.

Last year, for example, the government auctioned off the giant Libra oil field in deep waters off the Atlantic coast—though the state retains a two-fifths stake in the enterprise.