No ban on export of potatoes: Bosan

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan has said there was no ban on export of potatoes.Talking to a group of media, he said the private sector was free to export the potatoes according to their assessment and requirement."We exported a large quantity of potatoes to Russia last year and this year exports would also increase", he added."We are not importing potatoes as enough quantity of the commodity was available", he said.Minister said that due to export of potatoes there would be no increase in the prices of the commodity at domestic level. He said government was identifying new markets for the Pakistani potatoes exports.

The Minister said that producers or growers were not getting their due prices for the commodity and it was not passed on to the local consumers as well, as the middle man mafia were only minting the price of the community.

Farmers advised to save mango from frost

MULTAN (APP): Experts have advised farmers to save mango from frost to support plants pass through the dormancy period properly and avoid vegetative growth upon reaching flower stage.Experts said that Punjab produces 1.304 million ton mango from 0.275 mln acres and temperature of 25 Celsius was best for its growth. However, mango farmers can successfully grow mango at temperatures ranging from 10-37 Celsius. Experts said that mango plants go into dormancy during winter season and support from farmers to enable plants negotiate this phase successfully was as important for production as application of water, micronutrient, and adoption of curative and preventive techniques against diseases and pests.

Usually farmers do not take care of plants at dormancy stage which results in vegetative growth from buds instead of flowers or sometimes cause early flower growth which die due to cold weather conditions and compromise production.

Dormancy in mango plants is caused by external or internal factors and farmers must take care of food requirements of plants, water application, counter diseases and pests and save plants from frost.Frost usually affects the buds and triggers vegetative growth and saving it from frost during dormancy was essential.

Farmers should apply light irrigation to save plants from adverse impact of frost. Farmers should apply one percent spray of potassium nitrate at the beginning of flower stage in the first week of February to speed up plants growth.

Indonesia may import rice from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Indonesian government is sounding out the possibility of importing rice from Pakistan amid low rice stocks following a prolonged dry season."We are negotiating imports with Pakistan and other countries," said Indonesian Trade Minister Thomas Lembong in Jakarta, The Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday.The Indonesian government, Thomas said, was preparing a government-to- government Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice imports with the Pakistani government.The State Logistics Agency (Bulog) was studying the technical details of Pakistan's rice stocks, he added. Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said to fulfill the shortage of rice, we're looking at signing MoUs with Myanmar and Pakistan.

He further explained that the agreements were a precaution measure to anticipate reduced rice stocks, which could in turn lead to surging prices of basic commodities.

"The estimated domestic production of rice at the end of March this year will be 1.35 million tons. From the end of March to April, our rice production will improve as the effects of El Ni$o gradually lessen," he said.

Dar briefed about proposed amendments in AGP Ordinance

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired a briefing session on proposed amendments in the Auditor General of Pakistan’s (AGP) Ordinance 2001. The Auditor General of Pakistan, Rana Assad Amin briefed the Finance Minister about the proposed amendments in the Ordinance which relate to functions and powers of the AGP. He said that these amendments were necessitated in view of the statutory and constitutional developments over the years including the 18th amendment. Further, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its historic judgment had clearly outlined the functions, duties and powers of the AGP.

The Auditor General added that the Finance Minister during his recent visit to the AGP office had also expressed the desire for necessary amendments in the AGP Ordinance 2001 to bring it in line with international best practices and cater to present day requirements. With the aforementioned in view the much needed amendments were being proposed in the form of a draft bill, Rana Assad Amin remarked.

The Finance Minister appreciated the effort made by the Office of the AGP for drafting the amendments. He hoped that these would help make the system of audit more robust and effective besides helping to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the financial matters of the government.

The Minister stated that consultative process to finalize the amendments be initiated and completed expeditiously before the bill is introduced in the parliament. The Minister also called upon Rana Assad Amin to keep up efforts for continued improvement in the overall working of the AGP Office.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and AGP Office attended the meeting.

Advisory committee constituted for auction of 3G, 4G spectrum

ISLAMABAD (APP): The inaugural meeting of the Auction Advisory Committee of Ministry of Information Technology was held on Wednesday to review preparation for second round of auction of 3G and 4G spectrum. Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rahman while chairing the meeting stated, "We are committed to conduct the second round of spectrum auction in most transparent professional manner as was done in 2014. Less than two years ago, a successful next generation spectrum of 3G and 4G auction was held by the government. After this industry and information technology sector has witnessed an exponential growth in result of this auction.

There was a phenomenal increase in the number of subscribers in telecom sector where the broadband density today is over 15%.

In view of the positive response; government has decided to consider auctioning the spectrum, left unsold in 2014.

Therefore the Prime Minister has constituted the Advisory Committee for auction of the unsold spectrum which is headed by Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rahman while Special Assistants to Prime Minister for Law, Human Rights, Secretary Finance, Secretary Law, Chairman PTA, Executive Director Frequency Allocation Board and Member telecom will be the members of this committee. Member Telecom has also been appointed as Committee Secretary.

Chairman PTA Syed Ismail Shah apprised the committee that consultants which are hired by the PTA are working on "market assessment" and their report will be shared with the committee on its completion.

This assessment is expected to be done till the end of January 2016.

This advisory committee will examine and evaluate the "market assessment" report submitted by the PTA and will devise an auction strategy and methodology and will issue a policy directive for the spectrum auction.