Tag Archives: shortage

No skills shortage expected from FIFO recruitment drive

Posted February 21, 2013 14:12:01

Far north Queensland leaders say a new push to recruit fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers from the region is unlikely to create a local skills shortage.

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will recruit 250 fly-in, fly-out workers from the Cairns region for its new Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines in the Bowen Basin.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning says the boost to the local economy outweighs his concerns about losing workers.

“In terms of attracting industry and diversification of the economy we’ve been out to lunch for a while,” he said.

“We’re back from lunch now.

“We’ll find the mining industry, because of the wages they pay, will attract people away but when men and women go to work on the mines they don’t intend to stay there for the rest of their lives.

“They’ll do two or three or four years there, they’ll get their back accounts nice and fat again and then they’ll come back to the coast again.”

Councillor Manning says there still are not enough job opportunities in the region.

“They don’t take people away forever,” he said.

“They go away, they’re away for awhile, they learn new skills, they come back and settle back into life on the coast, so I don’t see it as a great problem.

“The economy here hasn’t picked up pace yet. It’s starting to but it hasn’t picked up pace, so let’s just see what happens when we’re 12 months down the track.”

Meanwhile, BMA says salaries alone are expected to inject an estimated $40 million into the Cairns economy.

BMA asset president Stephen Dumble says the new workers will start at the mines in the second-half of the year.

“The company looked at Cairns because we’re looking to diversify where we draw our workforce from,” he said.

“We’ve said all along that fly-in, fly-out represents a good opportunity to spread the benefits of our growth and of our industry more broadly in the regions in Queensland and today’s announcement is a good recognition of that.”

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says it is good news for the Cairns economy.

“It’s 250 salaries that will be spent here on all of the service industries,” he said.

“All of the small businesses here in Cairns will benefit from having an extra 250 families earning a good wage in the central Queensland coalfields.”

Jo Pyne from Tropical North Queensland TAFE says it is looking at ways to plug potential skill gaps.

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to work with local industry to provide the skills that we need,” she said.

“We’ll be able to cope with the demand, I mean this isn’t a huge number that we’re talking about locally but we do need to be working very closely with industry to make sure we … don’t lose the skills that we need to keep industry running here.”

She says the company is looking for experienced mine workers and newcomers to the industry.

“We have been talking to them over the last 18 months really wanting to be quite clear about what their skills needs are so we can make sure that the training we’re delivering is providing skills to people who are interested in finding work in the mining industry,” she said.

Topics: mining-rural, mining-industry, activism-and-lobbying, community-development, regional, regional-development, work, cairns-4870, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700

Gas shortage: Fertiliser manufacturers claim losses of nearly Rs5b

Revenu­es have declin­ed 31%, profit­abilit­y by a whoppi­ng 139%.  Total urea produced by SNGPL-based plants in the first nine months of 2011 stood at 564,000 tons, which has declined 60% to 226,000 tons in the same period of 2012. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: In the first nine months of 2012, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL)-based plants, which include Agritech, DH Fertilizers, Pakarab, Engro’s new EnVen plant, as well as Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC)-based Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim lost profitability by 139% and incurred a collective loss of Rs4.8 billion.

The same manufacturers had recorded a collective profit of Rs12.3 billion in the first nine months of 2011, says a release issued by the Fertiliser Manufacturers Pakistan Advisory Council (FMPAC) here on Tuesday.

During the period under review, all SNGPL-based plants and SSGC-based FFBL faced a 31% loss in revenue compared with the same period of 2011. They collectively generated total revenues of Rs44.5 billion in the first nine months of 2012, as compared to last year’s Rs64.3 billion.

During the timeframe, all SNGPL-based plants collectively suffered a loss of revenue of Rs10.1 billion, compared to the same period of 2011, due to gas curtailment and lower urea sales. Total urea sales by SNGPL-based plants stood at 216,000 tons, which is 346,000 tons less than the 562,000 tons of urea sold in the first nine months of 2011, indicating a 62% volumetric decline in sales.

Total urea produced by SNGPL-based plants in the first nine months of 2011 stood at 564,000 tons, which has declined 60% to 226,000 tons in the same period of 2012. SNGPL-based plants have operated at only 13% of installed capacity in 2012, as compared to 33% last year.

According to a FMPAC official, SNGPL-based plants are facing the worst-ever crisis in their history. Gas outages went in excess of an unprecedented 200 days in the first nine months of the calendar year. The official said that despite an investment of over $2.3 billion in new production capacity, the country is sitting on idle urea capacity of 2.7 million tons.

Fertiliser sector officials warned that if the same level of gas curtailment continues during 2013, SNGPL-based fertiliser plants will be forced to shut down permanently – resulting in the layoff of highly-skilled manpower. They also warned that the exchequer will feel the pressure once it is forced to import urea to meet the shortfall in the country.

“It is not just fertiliser plants that will face the brunt of industry closure: the whole farmers’ community as well as the government would be the ultimate losers if fertiliser plants are shut down,” an official claimed..

He said the government needs to support the fertiliser industry to ensure the supply of cheap local urea to farmers.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.

View the original article here

Rental property shortage continues across Queensland

Updated October 19, 2012 12:17:16

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) says Gladstone remains the state’s tightest rental market.

The REIQ says most regions posted vacancy rates of 2.5 per cent or lower last month, but in Gladstone the rate is below 1 per cent.

REIQ chief executive Anton Kardash says there is also an undersupply of rental accommodation in the Brisbane region.

“We’re really seeing a tightening of the market place pretty much across Queensland,” he said.

“There are some exceptions but we’re seeing a real tightening of the market.

“What we would normal consider to be a balanced market is 3 per cent and what we’re seeing from June to September is we’ve gone from 2.4 to 1.9 per cent.”

Topics: housing, housing-industry, community-development, regional, regional-development, gladstone-4680, brisbane-4000, bundaberg-4670, cairns-4870, longreach-4730, mackay-4740, maroochydore-4558, rockhampton-4700, mount-isa-4825, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, townsville-4810

First posted October 19, 2012 12:16:05

Livestock suffers from diseases due to fodder shortage

KARACHI: The country’s livestock is suffering from diseases and weight loss due to fodder shortage in the rain-hit areas of upper Sindh, according to official sources.

The lives of hundreds and thousands of livestock and poultry are at risk in rain-affected areas due to water-borne diseases.

“We want to sell our livestock amid unavailability of fodder but the buyers have declined to buy them as they are hit by diseases,” said Laung Sanghar, a grower from Ghotki district.

Heavy rains hit Ghotki, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Larkana districts last month, resulting in loss of fodder that led to diseased livestock. “The growers who lost their crops were hoping to earn some income by selling animals but diseases have increased their worries,” said Professor M Ismail Kumbhar of Agriculture University of Tandojam. “Fodder is unavailable in the rain-hit areas, besides drinking water is also contaminated, which is causing diseases.”

He further added that the foot-and-mouth disease, skin diseases, mosquito bites and shortage of fodder were the major reasons for sickness of animals, with goats mainly suffering from them.

Kumbhar appealed to the government to take initiatives for vaccination of cattle. He also called out to international donors to save the lives of people, as they were also consuming unhealthy water. Last year, more than 150,000 cattle died because of various diseases and rains in several areas of Sindh.

Heavy rains hit 21 districts of Sindh but nine of them were severely affected, including Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Umerkot, Sanghar and Benazirabad. Loss of livestock and poultry in the rain-affected areas is likely to result in malnutrition of millions of people in these areas. Analyst and Head of the Institute of Social Movements Pakistan Zulfiqar Shah said that the affected people were at risk of developing malnutrition as livestock was likely to be lost.

The livestock sector has emerged as a priority sector only recently on policy formulation. In the rural areas, livestock is considered as a secure source of income for small farmers and the landless. Additionally, it has become an important source of employment generation in the rural areas.

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12, poverty incidence in Pakistan is determined by income variability and thus livestock is the best hope for poverty alleviation as it can uplift the socioeconomic conditions of the rural people. The livestock accounted for approximately 55.1 percent of the agriculture value-added and 11.5 percent to GDP during 2010-11.

Furthermore, the survey says that the overall thrust of the government’s livestock policy is to foster private sector-led development with the public sector providing an enabling environment through policy interventions and capacity building for improved livestock husbandry practices.

The emphasis will be on improving per unit animal productivity and moving from subsistence to market oriented and then to commercial livestock farming in the country to meet the domestic demand and surplus for export.

The objective is to exploit the livestock sector’s potential and use it as an engine for economic growth and food security in the country leading so that rural population’s empowerment and rural socioeconomic development takes place.

Almost 35 to 40 million rural population is dependent on livestock. The poultry sector generates employment and income for about 1.5 million people. Its contribution towards value-added agriculture is 4.8 percent and livestock value-added is 9.8 percent. Poultry meat contributes 24.8 percent to the total meat production in the country, said the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12.

The current investment in the poultry industry stands at Rs200 billion. Poultry sector has shown a robust growth of 8-10 percent annually which reflects its inherent potential.

Irrigation water shortage for Rabi crops decreases

LAHORE: Water shortage for irrigation of Rabi crops has come down considerably due to the recent rains. Official sources said here on Monday that irrigation water shortage that had earlier been predicted at as high as 45 percent in the Rabi season is now estimated at as low as 18-19 percent of normal flows.

Late surge in river flows and widespread rains have literally rescued the agriculture sector from a potential disastrous situation in the upcoming Rabi season, starting from October 1, 2012, as water availability scenario improves significantly, according to the latest official estimates prepared by public sector departments.

The improvement in water storage level has been possible because of belated recovery in river flows that allows the filling of Tarbela Dam on Indus River up to full capacity of 1,550 feet (ft) and Mangla Dam on River Jhelum to a much reasonable level of 1,206 ft against its elevated maximum conservation level of 1,242 ft.

If this had not been the case, the production of wheat crop, which is a staple food and is cultivated in the Rabi season, could be adversely affected, sources said. Sources also said that the Advisory Committee of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) will finalise rabi water distribution plan 2012-13 in its scheduled meeting today (Tuesday) in Islamabad.

After consultation with representatives of all four provinces, the Advisory Committee will announce estimates of water availability during the Rabi season besides determining water shares of the provinces for irrigation.

Earlier, in mid-August, irrigation experts had feared a 35-45 percent deficiency of water for the Rabi season in a scenario where both Tarbela and Mangla dams were least likely to be filled to capacity.

Since then, about three million acres of additional water has been impounded in both Tarbela and Mangla dams in a delayed monsoon or late-kharif upsurge in flows, easing prospects of water shortage in the Rabi season.

According to the latest water report, about 6.557 million acre feet (MAF) has been stored in Tarbela Dam following alteration in standard operating procedure of filling the dam by Wapda.

Zardari terms energy shortage ‘mother of all ills’

Insist­s countr­y has become attrac­tive place to do busine­ss. Pakistan has won preferential trade access to European market, which will go a long way in strengthening the economy, says President Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

LAHORE: Describing energy shortage as mother of all ills, President Asif Ali Zardari has stressed that the government is taking all possible measures to overcome the scarcity and the business community should assist it in achieving economic goals as well as progress and prosperity.

“Pakistan Peoples Party government is taking long-, medium- and short-term measures to bring the economy back on the rails. The continuous support and cooperation extended by the business community has significantly improved revenues, which gives me immense satisfaction,” he said.

He was speaking at the 8th Achievement Awards, organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), at the Governor House here on Friday. He also gave away awards to leading businessmen on the occasion.

Zardari said Pakistan had become a profitable land to do business in, thanks to well-tailored and well-consulted policies, and it had won preferential access to the European market, which would go a long way in strengthening the economy.

Highlighting the contribution of industrialists, the president pointed out that entrepreneurs helped make the state economically viable as the country had inherited a negligible industrial base at the time of independence. Accelerated growth had been achieved with the cooperation of the business community, he said.

Zardari said the government was getting the assistance of private sector in the form of public-private ventures and the impact of improving economic indicators would soon reach the people, which would ultimately reduce the gap between haves and have-nots.

“Our businessmen are writing new success stories with their sheer commitment and dedication despite all odds,” he remarked and expressed the optimism that the entire business community would work hard to cope with new challenges.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh underscored the need for consistency in policies for the economic well-being of the country.

He boasted that the business community had a remarkable capacity to succeed –partly due to their initiatives and efforts and partly due to the country being blessed in many respects.

He expressed the hope that the new phase of trade liberalisation with India would potentially open an array of business opportunities for Pakistan’s businessmen. “However, we need to ensure that the sectors and companies exposed to tough competition from across the border get the level playing field.”

He said though Pakistan had vast natural resources, it should act smartly and responsibly in exploiting the resources to achieve high long-term growth and improve
living standards.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.

‘IP gas pipeline essential to end shortage’

SNGPL head update­s indust­rialis­ts on the projec­t. WALKED AWAY: 3 is the number of companies that have backed out from the pipeline due to fears of US sanctions. PHOTO: FILE


Industrialists are of the view that the US opposed Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project can heal the gas shortage to an extent. 

Depleting reserves and failure to exploit new fields is expected to widen the supply and demand gas, LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh told the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) Managing Director Arif Hameed in a meeting on Monday.

Gas shortfall is estimated to reach 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (BCFD) in 2014-15, 3 bcfd in 2015-16 and 3.5 bcfd in 2016-17.

Sheikh believes that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline can rescue the industry from the crisis. “Work on the 785km gas pipeline needs to be accelerated on an emergency basis,” Sheikh added. Initially, the pipeline will add around 750 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas, which will gradually be increased to over 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd).

On Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, SNGPL Managing Director Arif Hameed said that the government is working efficiently and tenders for the project have been issued.

After many hiccups, Pakistan finally awarded contracts without bidding for the multi-billion-dollar pipeline to Russia last month.

State-owned National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDC) walked away from the project last year while the world’s largest bank Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC) after agreeing to finance Pakistan’s side of the pipeline shied away after succumbing to US pressure in March.

Gas shortage to increase

SNGPL Managing Director Arif Hameed has given a heads up to the industry of a serious gas shortage and increase in gas consumption during the upcoming winter season.

In the new gas policy, he said, the gas tariff would be improved to facilitate gas exploration in the country.

Due to high gas tariff, gas theft has increase but a new technology has been installed that identifies pilferage and leakage, he maintained.

LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said the shortage of natural gas has become the core issue for the industries and there is a need to find out new reserves as current gas reserves are depleting at a rapid pace.

He said that current line losses of over 10% need to
be minimised to decrease theft and increase revenue collection. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.

Power shortage: IPPs to run on 100% capacity now

Govt suppli­es furnac­e oil for one week to power compan­ies. The supply of furnace oil will create another circular debt for the IPPs as the government is already defaulting on payments. PHOTO: FILE


In a belated move to cope with the power crisis, the government has shipped furnace oil for one week to seven independent power producers (IPPs), which have fuel supply agreements with Pakistan State Oil (PSO), and asked them to start running plants at 100% capacity.

According to sources, PSO, on the insistence of the government, has provided around 60,000 tons of furnace oil to seven IPPs to help them produce sufficient electricity to provide immediate relief and placate the agitating people.

The IPPs which received the furnace oil included Japan Power (100-megawatt capacity), Atlas Power (214MW), Sapcol (130MW), AES Lalpir (325MW), Lalpir Pak Gen (325MW), Kel Power (127MW) and Saba Power (130MW).

Before the dispatch of fresh oil consignments, these power plants were operating at 30% to 40% of their installed capacity. According to sources, the managements of the IPPs, which adjusted their shifts according to the low capacity utilisation, are wondering how they will be able to arrange manpower on an immediate basis.

“This will create another stream of circular debt for the IPPs as the government is already defaulting on payments and consequently IPPs are not able to repay bank loans. This ‘forced’ power generation will put IPPs in further financial stress if the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) is unable to  pay the credit in seven days,” said an IPP representative.

Industry sources termed the government’s move ‘intimidating’ as the government, instead of retiring the dues of power companies, is mounting pressure on them.

“What will happen after a week when all seven IPPs go and ask the government for payments for additional power generation,” the IPP representative asked.

Commenting on the developments, NTDC Director General Ejaz Rafique Quraishi said it was IPPs’ job to produce electricity and no discussion or consultation was required.

“They will have to operate now at 100% capacity, this is not our issue from where they arrange the manpower, this is their concern,” he said. “There will be zero tolerance.”

Quraishi also rejected the IPPs’ claim that payments had not been released. “The government is regularly paying the IPPs and the perception that we are not paying the dues is absolutely wrong.”

Despite repeated attempts, IPPs Advisory Council Chairman Abdullah Yousaf was not available for comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.

Appeal to consumers: ‘Save electricity until shortage is overcome’

People can save many megawa­tts by switch­ing off one bulb. Three million consumers of Fesco could save 300 megawatts by switching off only one bulb of 100 watts. PHOTO: FILE


Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) Chief Executive Officer Engineer Iftikhar Ahmed has asked consumers to use electricity conscientiously in hot summer days until its shortage is overcome through the construction of dams and power houses.

“Electricity has become an integral requirement of our everyday life, but a sizeable number of power units are wasted through ‘unwanted abuse of electricity’,” he said while speaking to the media here on Friday.

He suggested that three million consumers of Fesco could save 300 megawatts by switching off only one bulb of 100 watts, adding this electricity could be used in industries, business and agriculture which would spur economic activities in the country.

Besides the role of consumers in saving electricity, Ahmed said, Fesco was also playing its part and was taking steps to minimise unscheduled load-shedding. He expressed the hope that within a few days the consumers would see a positive improvement in electricity supply, but at the same time asked them that they would have to cooperate with the company.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.

Pharmaceuticals: Producers warn of shortage if prices stay unadjusted

Curren­t prices are making produc­tion of drugs financ­ially unfeas­ible. PPMA has warned the government about drug shortages, suspension of supply and reduction in investments. PHOTO: FILE


Multinational and local pharmaceutical companies (MNCs) have warned the government about possible drug shortages saying that the government had not allowed an increase in prices – against inflation – making it financially unfeasible for them to continue supplying a number of medicines, a press release said on Monday.

The industry requested the government several times to allow a reasonable adjustment in price against inflation and the jump in input costs but the latter’s rejection has deprived the industry of legitimate profit and halted further investments from the pharmaceutical sector, said Pharma Bureau Executive Director Dr Sadia Moazzam.

It may be added here that the organisation which represents local pharmaceutical companies, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) had demanded a price increase for their low-priced drugs citing similar reasons, Dawn reported on Monday.

The last formal price increase, according to pharma sources, was made in the year 2001.

The representatives of the industry have warned the government about possible drug shortages, because of a suspension of supply and reduction in investments if their demands are not met.

Many pharmaceuticals have suspended the production of some important daily use drugs, which they were previously producing either at a loss or at very low margins, the statement said. A widely used MNC medicine, supplied at Rs15 per 100 tablets for example was recently short in the market.

The alternative for this critical medicine is imported substitutes, which are priced at Rs 400 per pack, almost 25 times the price; the statement said.

In 2009, the industry and Ministry of Health framed a comprehensive pricing policy, which would allow the industry to obtain rational price levels for their products. However, the policy was withdrawn at the last moment.

In the absence of appropriate pricing and intellectual rights protection MNCs lack interest to introduce the newest and highest quality medicines in Pakistan. This results in lack of treatment options for doctors because it is these multinational corporations that give the impetus to education and research in support of these latest medicines, the statement said.

Without adjustments to the pricing, shortages of medicines is on the cards, the statement said. MNCs will soon notify the Drug Regulatory Authority about the suspension of the supply, it added.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.