ICST lauds enhanced focus of govt on agriculture

ISLAMABAD (INP): Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders on Thursday hailed enhanced focus of the government on agriculture sector which is backbone of the economy. Agriculture absorbs majority of workforce while around eighty exports of Pakistan’s are linked to this sector, said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt. Talking to Tabassum Anwar, Chairman IWCCI Standing Committee on Trade and Industry, he said that development of agriculture sector is linked to prosperity of farmer which should be the top priority. Shahid Rasheed Butt said that 69 percent of cultivable land is located in Punjab where 80 percent cotton, 63 percent sugar cane, surplus wheat and rice and other products are produced therefore this province should get extra attention of the policymakers. He said that the agricultural production is not satisfactory despite the 341 billion farmers’ package announced by the Prime Minister in November last year while the decisions taken in the recent budget are laudable.

The exports of rice, cotton and textiles continue to fall while low commodity prices and collapse of cotton crop has resulted in reduced demand of tractors by 47 percent which is alarming.

The veteran business leader also lauded the recently announced cut in the power tariff for the farmers terming it a step in the right direction.

Agricultural development is also linked to reduced input prices, quality seed and pesticides, and loans for which we lack a transparent and effective system putting growers on the mercy of middlemen, he said.

At the occasion, Tabassum Anwar said that the quality of life of planters should be improved with intervention to boost share of agriculture in GDP which is hovering around 22 percent so that food security situation can be improved.

Govt to spend Rs315m on skill development in 2016-17

ISLAMABAD (APP): Government has set a target to spend Rs 315 million on different skill development projects and programmes during financial year 2016-17. The initiative would help create skilled and sami-skilled workforce in order to tackle the need of the local industrial and other sectors of the national economy, said an official of the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms here on Thursday. Under the Prime Minister Youth Training scheme, about 150,000 educated unemployed youth would be trained as the government has allocated Rs 23 billion for the project, he added. He said, the educated youth would be trained as on job internees in 100 demand-driven trades and courses and give the intern an opportunity to learn and develop skills for better employment. Under the Prime Minister Youth Skill Development Programme (Phase III) another 50,000 young aspirants would be trained in 75 demand-driven market oriented trades.

The courses, he said, in various technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions in collaboration with private sector all over the country would also be organized with an estimated cost of Rs 2,630 million.

The Prime Minister Hunarmand Pakistan Programme (PSDP-funded) aims to train 10,000 youth in various three to 24-month long trades and courses.

Besides, he said, the national talent pool has planned to develop web portal and interface for collection and dissemination of data of the high-level manpower in the country and abroad.

It would also make arrangement of visits of expatriate Pakistani professionals for short to long-term placement in various institutions of the country.

The government was also planning for the establishment of the vocational schools in the public-private partnership at an estimated cost of Rs 50 million.

It is worth mentioning here that overseas employment during last three years witnessed a significant increase and during this period, about 2.3 million Pakistani workers went abroad for seeking jobs.

In the year 2012-13, about 622,714 workers went abroad while in 2014-15, about 946,571 workers emigrated which were contributing in economic building in terms of foreign remittances.

Oil rebounds on bargain hunting

LONDON (AFP): World oil prices rebounded Thursday as dealers snapped up bargain crude, one day after the commodity sank to fresh two-month lows on disappointing US inventories. At about 1200 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in August was up 83 cents at $45.58 a barrel compared with Wednesday's close. Brent North Sea crude for September delivery added 94 cents to $47.20 a barrel. Crude futures were also buoyed by the weaker dollar, which makes dollar-denominated oil cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies. In turn, that tends to stimulate demand and price levels. The market had tumbled on Wednesday after official US data showed a smaller-than-expected decline in crude stockpiles. That compounded fears that a supply glut might not be easing as quickly as expected. US commercial crude inventories fell 2.5 million barrels in the week ended July 8. However, they still held at historically high levels while production, which had been steadily falling, increased.

Over the past month, oil has fluctuated between $44 and $52 per barrel, after hitting near 13-year lows below $30 in February on the back of a global supply glut.

PTDC awaits new Managing Director

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has been running without its Managing Director (MD) for the last three months. Talking to APP, Media Manager PTDC Mukhtar Ahmed said that the appointment of Managing Director is expected soon. He agreed to the fact that the absence of head would affect the working of the department largely. However, he said that the board meeting was to be held in second week of July for nomination of new managing director which was postponed due to certain reasons. In next Board meeting, the decision to appointment a new MD would be taken, Mukhtar said. Similarly, he informed that with the allocation of special grant by Cabinet in June this year, the PTDC has paid outstanding salaries to their staff. "The Cabinet had allocated a special grant of Rs120 million to the PTDC for clearance of dues to the staff and other liabilities," Mukhtar added.