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May 08 - 21, 2000

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Civil services to be revamped

The government has constituted a high-level steering committee, headed by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, to implement the World Bank's proposed civil service reforms in the country.

The bank had asked Pakistan to implement the report "A Framework for Civil Service Reform in Pakistan", which was presented to the government of Pakistan in December 1998 but was not implemented.

Some senior bureaucrats, including the secretary-general finance, the secretary establishment and the secretary cabinet, etc. are the members of the steering committee which has made some sub-committees to work out the modalities for the implementation of different aspects of the report.

Agencies like the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) have also been engaged by the steering committee so that there is no overlapping of work.

The WB report, prepared in response to Pakistan's request, covers the following main topics: the need for reform; employment and personnel expenditure; downsizing; accountability and performance; pay and benefits; pensions, and preparing, sequencing, and managing comprehensive reform.

To reduce the increasing public sector wage costs which, according to the WB report, are straining the high-priority nonwage expenditures, irreversible downsizing of civil bureaucracy is necessary.

For effective downsizing scheme, the WB suggests the removal of ghost workers and pensioners by undertaking payroll audits; maintaining and tightening the existing recruitment freezes; stopping new work-charged employment and not regularising the existing work-charged staff; terminating all ad hoc appointments and contractual appointments at the end of the contract period; denotifying all unfilled sanctioned posts which have remained vacant for more than one year; ending the practice of 'moveovers'.

External auditor to check future economic data

The Government has agreed with the International Monetary Fund that all future economic data would be audited by external auditor mutually agreed by the Fund and the State Bank of Pakistan, sources close to the Fund told.

This was made mandatory by the Fund's central board for Pakistan after the recent misreporting of budget figures by the government.

The Fund has agreed to government's point of view that the failure was systemic and not deliberate. Therefore, to make government observe standard operating procedures, it is necessary to get every data audited through external auditors, they said.

Internet rates cut

Cyber Internet Services Limited (CISL) has reduced their internet rates up to 55 per cent.

This was announced by marketing manager, CISL, Hassan Khan at a press briefing. He said the company has added 900 lines and plans to increase their current bandwidth of 2Mb to 4Mb in the near future.

LPG, furnace oil business being deregulated

The government has decided to completely deregulate the import, storage and distribution of the furnace oil and liquefied petroleum gas and remove these items from the freight pool, it is learnt. The decision has been taken in line with the present government's privatization strategy which stands for doing away with government control over the petroleum sector.

5pc GDP may not be achieved: SBP

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has said Pakistan's GDP may grow 4.4 per cent during the current fiscal year which is lower than targeted 5 per cent but higher than the previous year's growth of 3.1 per cent. A third quarterly report of the SBP on the state of the economy predicts 5.4 per cent growth in the agricultural sector and 4.5 per cent growth in the services sector against the targeted 4.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent growth in the respective sectors. It says industry may grow only 1.5 per cent against the targeted 5.5 per cent because of low production of sugar and a downward revision of real growth in small-scale manufacturing.

TCP gets bids

Spinners and textile mills owners virtually invaded the Trading Corporation (TCP) headoffice after it allowed local sales of its unsold stock of lint cotton and tendered for 0.175 million bales just in one-go. According to TCP sources 80 APTMA members tendered for 0.175 million bales at rates ranging from Rsl825 to Rs2021 per maund (37.32kg) depending on quality of lint and fibre length, which are a bit higher than the prevailing market prices.

Rsl24.5bn PSDP okayed for next fiscal

The Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) which met under the chairmanship of Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz approved an allocation of Rsl24.5 billion for next year's Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Sources said the finance ministry has opposed the new allocation for the PSDP 2000-20001 and has asked the government to curtail it at Rs117 billion, adding the foreign currency component has been fixed at Rs45.3 billion

According to an official statement issued at the end of the APCC meeting, the total amount is 23% higher than the revised PSDP for the year 1999-2000 and represents 3.5% of the GDP.

Under the programme, major share of 17.4% is allocated to energy sector followed by poverty reduction programme (17%), transport and communication (16.3%, water resources development 8.6%, social sector 7.1%, physical planning and housing 1.6% and science and technology 1.6%).