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Jun 19 - 25, 2000

Tension hovering over S. Asia: CE

The Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has reiterated that clouds of tension over South Asia will continue to hover until a just and peaceful solution to Kashmir issue is found in accordance with the wishes of its people.

Addressing the 6th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), here on Saturday, the CE expressed his regrets that India did not reciprocate Pakistan's sincere proposals for dialogue on this and other issues.

He renewed the offer for the resumption of talks on Jammu and Kashmir and all other unresolved issues. He said peace and security was vital for economic development.

Pakistan, he said, wanted peace with honour and dignity. Sue will welcome any initiative leading to a solution that ensures our sovereignty and dignity, he added.

He said that the Indian occupation forces were subjecting Kashmiris to brutal aggression in their struggle for their right to selfdetermination — an unalienable right pledged to them by the UN Security Council.

Turning to Afghanistan, the CE said that the restoration of a durable peace there was of crucial importance. He urged the ECO members to look beyond narrow individual interests and work for collective gains keeping the ground realities in focus.

Pakistan, Oman sign maritime border pact

Oman and Pakistan signed a maritime border accord on Monday during a visit by the chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, in a bid to avoid disputes over fishing rights or resources.

Oman's minister in charge of foreign affairs Yussef bin Alawi signed the agreement with Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar.

"This accord will resolve many problems concerning fishing zones and marine resources and allow us to exploit its riches," Mr bin Alawi said after the signing ceremony attended by Gen Musharraf.

"We have had no problem drawing the maritime line on the basis of the international law of the sea," he said of the 270-km line across the Arabian Sea.

The Omani minister said his country had now concluded border accords with all its neighbours: Iran in 1974, Saudi Arabia in 1990, Yemen in 1992, and the United Arab Emirates last year.

On his arrival on Sunday, the CE said Pakistan aimed to step up economic cooperation with Oman.

3 major steps for hiking revenues

Three major steps for enhancing federal revenues and ensuring improved tax compliance have been stipulated as an immediate future plan in the Economic Survey 1999-2000, released here on Thursday by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

These steps are: attachments of tax defaulters accounts and stopping clearance of their goods; enacting efficient tax dispute resolution system; and introduction of electronic cash registers in the entire retail sector, including hotels paying central excise duty at Rs 800,000 and above.

These changes in the taxation area are coupled with the following: reduction in number/rates of federal/ provincial taxes/penalties, reforms in labour levies; and simplification of assessment/ collection procedures.

No extension in tax holiday

No further extension would be allowed to the tax holiday zones and special exempted sectors and units to avail the duty/tax concession notified over the past 4-5 years. Its learnt from official sources here on Wednesday that all such notifications have been reviewed by the relevant government authorities and it has been found that extension in tax holiday periods specified for various zones and sectors/ units plus retention of specific exemptions to manufacturers of varied products would jeopardize the government's plans to improve revenue collection in future.

POL prices to remain same

The prices of petroleum products in the country will remain the same in coming three months, and there is no possibility of reduction in POL prices as is generally believed, it is learnt from official sources.

The ongoing prices of POL were fixed when the prices in the international market had touched all time high in one decade. However in April prices came down from over US $30 per barrel to US $21. The sources said there is no likelihood of reduction in POL prices as one barrel crude is priced at US $29.30 presently.

Pakistan okays gas pipeline for India

Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf gave his blessing on Saturday to a major gasline connecting Iran and India that would cross Pakistan, according to Iran's official news agency.

"We are hoping for perfect understanding among the countries" of the Economic Cooperation Organizanon(ECO), Musharraf was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Commercial courts

The federal government is considering asking the judiciary to establish commercial courts at the high court level, it is learnt reliably. The benches at high court will deal with commercial disputes only for the expeditious disposal of cases. These benches are being set up at the demand of the local and foreign investors.

Saudi investors meet PC chief

An 8-member leading investors delegation, led by Mr. Emad Jalal Baban, Advisor to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, met the Chairman, Privatisation Commission Mr Altaf M Saleem, here on Monday and expressed its keen interest to take part in the privatisation programme. The delegation, which included investors from Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, was briefed about the upcoming major transactions being offered for privatisation.

KPT asked to provide loan for Gwadar port

The federal government is seeking a loan facility of Rs 5 billion from Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and will ask the contractor to raise the remaining amount for the construction of phase-I of the multi-billion rupees Gwadar deep-sea port.

"This arrangement will settle the long standing issue of funding the phase-I of the project which will cost Rs 10 billion," an official source said.