Compensation for fire-affected furniture retailers of Lahore sought

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq Tuesday demanded the government to pay compensation for the losses of millions of rupees due to burning of shops of furniture retailers on Ferozpur Road, Lahore. Mian Kashif Ashfaq regretted that furniture sector in Pakistan is already a neglected one and under this situation, when furniture retailers face hardships for running their business, the loss due to the fire mishap could compel them to shutdown their business. Therefore, he asked the concerned authorities to pay compensation to furniture retailers to drag them back from the quagmire of the crisis, a statement Tuesday said. He said the local furniture sector attached great importance to the national economy and could make a substantial contribution of billions of dollars in exports annually. He said the furniture industry prospered during last decades without any support from the government.

However, the industry is still facing problems due to its unorganized structure incurring costs due to inefficiency that can be reduced by bringing the industry to one location.

Mian Kashif also urged the government to provide fiscal support for skills training and machinery upgrading to increase export competitiveness of the furniture sector.

He also demanded the government to give industrial status to furniture sector besides patronizing to exploit the potential at its maximal level.

"To make furniture goods more competitive at the international level the government should revise its taxes and duties on this industry," he added.

Furniture testing facilities should be set up to guarantee quality exports that would boost the confidence of international buyers. But most importantly, the government needs to give this sector a most favored industry status. Resultantly, the cost to consumers will fall, thereby stoking demand. This will lead to more demand which will enhance this industrial base, and potentially enhance furniture exports further, he concluded.

CCRI, WWF sign MoU to promote environment-friendly agri practices

MULTAN (APP): Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) Multan and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote profitable cotton cultivation techniques from boll to bail in a way that it does not hurt natural habitat of wildlife. CCRI Multan director Dr Zahid Mahmood and WWF-Pakistan senior manager Asad Imran signed the MoU in a ceremony here, CCRI spokesman said in a statement. Head of fibre technology section CCRI Multan Muhammad Ilyas said that WWF had been working on a variety of initiatives mainly focused on environment conservation. Agriculture practices has an impact on environment and sensing that cotton was one of the most cultivated crops, WWF registered over 100,000 cotton farmers under its various programmes to enlighten them on how to adopt practices that are not only high yielding but also keep environment safe.

For example, CCRI and WWF experts can tell farmers that they can reduce pesticides application to avoid harm to friendly pests and the environment. CCRI also has a large number of cotrton farmers registered with it.

Director CCRI Dr Zahid Mahmood said the joint venture would enable experts from both sides to address a larger segment of cotton farmers in Pakistan to guide them on cotton crop's modern and profitable technology, their training for picking, ginning and maintaining fibre quality and publishing material in the form of pamphlets and booklets.

Under MoU CCRI would extend technical support to WWF to promote modern agriculture practices that are safer for natural habitat of wildlife.

The initiative would hopefully help address issues behind low cotton cultivated area recorded last year.

WWF-Pakistan senior manager Asad Imran promised cooperation to address cotton-related issues of the country and improve environment for wildlife.

Five new projects worth Rs480m being executed in petroleum sector

ISLAMABAD (APP): Petroleum and Natural Resources Division has planned to execute five new projects worth Rs 480 million to accelerate oil and gas exploration activities under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the year 2018-19. Mainly, the projects focus on upgradation of testing laboratories of Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) to ensure provision of quality petroleum products to consumers, official sources told APP. The government has allocated an amount of Rs 220 million for strengthening and up-gradation of Karachi Laboratories Complex (KLC) at HDIP Operations Office, Karachi, while Rs 50 million would be spent on upgradation of HDIP's POL testing facilities at Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta and ISO Certification of Petroleum Testing Laboratory at Islamabad, they added. An amount of Rs 100 has been reserved for upgradation of Chemical and Petrology-Mineralogy Labs at Geological Survey of Pakistan Southern Zone Karachi.

Whereas, Rs 100 million would be utilized for expansion and upgradation of Pakistan Petroleum Corehouse (PETCORE) for its sustainable operations to facilitate oil and gas exploration research in Pakistan. Besides, funds amounting to Rs 10 million have been allocated for geological mapping of 50 Toposheets, out of 354 Unmapped Toposheets of Outcrop areas of Balochistan province.

Loans being used in industrial, power sectors: Afzal

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal on Tuesday said that present government had utilized the loans for importing machinery to run industrial and power sectors. Utilizing loans for importing machinery would produce results in days to come besides creating number of job opportunities for unemployed youth of the country, he said while talking to a news channel. The government had provided soft loans to agriculture sector to achieve speedy progress, he added. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government after coming into power in 2013, launched many energy projects, he said adding that 10,000 megawatt electricity had been added to national grid for smooth flow of system. He said that country would have surplus energy in near future as many power plants are near to completion. Commenting on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf's 100 days plan, he said the PTI government could not develop the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas.

He said that the PTI even could not complete metro bus project.