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Apr 17 - 23, 2000

  1. International
  2. Finance
  3. Industry
  4. Policy
  5. Trade
  6. Gulf

Chinese technicians asked to leave

The Saindak Metals Limited (SML) has served notice on the Chinese technicians and experts in Balochistan to vacate the premises and take away the heavy machinery and equipment from the metal plant.

The SML officials took the plea that since the government had agreed to lease out the Saindak project, for which the process was initiated by shunting out all the workers before undertaking the ground work, therefore, the Chinese technicians were asked to vacate the premises.

When contacted, the Chinese technicians took exception to such a demand and said that they were the employees of the Metallurgical Construction Company of China and they would obey the orders of their bosses only.

They said they had dumped equipment and heavy machinery worth billions of rupees at the Saindak site and it was impossible to take them back to China without an approval from the Chinese government.

'Medium-term economic scenario beset with problems'

While short-term economic prospects of the country are comfortable, the medium-term economic scenario is riddled with difficulties. These relate to structural weaknesses, fiscal problems, debt management and incidence of poverty.

This was the essence of briefing by Secretary General Finance Moeen Afzal and Governor of State Bank (SBP) Dr Ishrat Hussain who spoke about three main aspects: misreporting of budgetary figures, the present economic performance and prospects and discussions with the IMF mission.

Speaking about the current year's performance, especially after the measures taken by the new government since October 12, Moeen Afzal said that the economic situation is reasonably comfortable. "The situation is stable and continues to be so," he said.

This is borne out by the GDP growth, inflation figures reduction in budget deficit and likely revenue receipts during this year.

According to him, the GDP growth would be 4.4 per cent against 3.1 percent of last year, inflation would stay around 4 per cent and the budget deficit in past two years has been reduced by 1.9 per cent.

The foreign exchange reserves have been stable despite the fact that there was no injection of foreign funds from donors or other agencies.

The revenue target for the year was Rs 379 billion, but was revised to Rs 362 as certain budgetary measures, like adjustment in petrol prices and GST on electricity were not taken. He was confident, the revised target, would be met.

Privatization of PTCL deferred

The Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) on Tuesday deferred the privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company with a view to getting a better price for it.

The committee observed that it would offload 26 per cent shares of the PTCL with the transfer of its management to its strategic buyer when the internal and external economic environment was improved, official sources told.

The privatization of the PTCL was on the agenda and one of the reasons for its postponement was that the finance minister had left the meeting quite early to leave for Washington.

MoU signed with UAE

United Arab Emirates and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration in the field of Biosaline agriculture.

The agreement was signed by Dr Mohammad Al-Attar on behalf of the UAE Biosaline Agricultural Centre and Dr Kausar Abdulla Malik, chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council.

According to the agreement the scientists of both the countries will share knowledge and advance their skills for development of agricultural sector to meet the present day challenges.

KSEW bid for a turnaround

Prospects have brightened to save Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW), presently in a bad financial condition, from going "sick", with the implementation of a renewed marketing strategy worked out for this strategic organization.

Under the envisaged strategy KSEW will be constructing four Frigates for Pakistan Navy at a projected cost of 500 million dollars in joint collaboration with China, Rear Admiral Arshad Munir Ahmad, Managing Director, KSEW said here on Tuesday.

The project has been okayed by the Chief Executive and now the Ministry of Defence and Naval Headquarters were seized with the task of arranging funding for the same from the Ministry of Finance, the Admiral said.

Gas connections assured

Federal minister for petroleum and natural resources Mian Usman Aminduddin has assured to provide gas connection for self generation to industries and to accommodate pending cases with SSGS for supply of 15 MMCFD gas for power generation.

The assurance was given by the minister during a meeting with three member delegation of FPCCI at OGDC Lodge on Tuesday.

The minister informed the delegation that SSGC has been authorized to sanction gas connection for power generation without referring these cases to Islamabad.

Wheat output below target

Pakistan's wheat production is projected to reach 19.3 million tonnes this year, government officials said on Monday, signalling a crop below the target of 20 million tonnes and putting in doubt plans to stop imports.

An Agriculture Ministry official said the government's federal committee on agriculture set the new estimate in a meeting last week and added it could be revised as fresh crop data arrives.

"These are the first estimates and could be reviewed depending on an increase or decrease in the crop size," the official said.

He said water shortage in the crop area hit the production targets as "it affected pollination and size of the grain." Irrigation officials say low winter rains and late snow melting has left water levels dangerously near the minimum and said the shortage could also hit the cotton crop, predicted to be the largest in several years.