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Jun 26 - Jul 02, 2000

Musharraf opens Ormara naval base

The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, said on Thursday that Pakistan's defence would never be allowed to be undermined.

"We have a strategy of deterrence which is well looked after and we would never allow any let-up in our defence and security."

The CE was responding to reporters' questions after inaugurating the Jinnah Naval Base at Ormara in Balochistan, some 240kms from here. When his attention was drawn to a recent increase in the Indian defence budget, he said "whatever investment was required to maintain our deterrence, we would certainly make arrangements for that".

Earlier in his speech at the ceremony, the CE said that the naval harbour, Jinnah Naval Base, would open new strategic, operational and economic avenues.

"The establishment of this harbour is bound to have a positive impact not only on Ormara but also on the entire coastal belt. I see a bright future for the neglected coastal areas."

He then unveiled the plaque of the Jinnah Naval Base followed by dua. He was briefed about salient features of the harbour with the help of a model before he moved to PNS warship Khyber for reception.

The harbour has birthing facilities for eight ships and four submarines with space for small auxiliary units. The 3.5km-long approach channel leads to a turning basin and both have been dredged by 10 meters.

The Turkish minister of state, Faruk Bal, delivered a brief speech besides Commander of Pakistan Fleet, Rear Admiral Taj Mohammad Khattak.

Textile modernization fund

The Governor of State Bank Dr. Ishrat Husain said here on Thursday that the government is mulling over creation of a textile modernization fund to help boost project financing.

Speaking at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Ishrat said the main aim to set up the fund is to boost the exports of textile specially value-added textile products. The decision to set up the fund may be announced in the new trade policy 2000-2001.

"Our strategy is to provide funds to the value added sector instead of spinning and weaving sectors who have already stuck up loans," he said.

The governor said the banks will review the exposure and credibility of the party (value added industry) before issuing any funds.

He said textile sector would face new challenges following the expiry of multi fibre agreement (MFA) in 2004 as well as liberal inflow of textile goods at lower customs tariff.

Shaukat on import of furnance oil

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Monday the government had decided to deregulate import of furnace oil from July 1. He told at the end of his press conference at State Bank that commercial importers would be allowed to import only furnace oil and not other petroleum products. He said state-run Pakistan State Oil would continue importing furnace oil as usual.

Earlier he told the press that the ministry of commerce would release a detailed trade policy later this month adding that the policy would focus on export growth.

He said the State Bank would manage foreign exchange rates in a manner to make sure that exporters maintained competitiveness in world markets adding that the market-driven and trade-weighted exchange policy would continue. "There is no such move to (do) what you alluded to," he told a reporter who had asked him whether a devaluation was on cards.

Pakistan seeks cash for F-16s

Pakistan has refused to import wheat from the United States and sought cash in lieu of the outstanding amount of F-16 aircraft.

The US government has been asked to pay the remaining amount of $80 million in cash during the financial year 2000-2001, disclosed Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz while replying to a question at a post-budget press conference here on Sunday.

Pakistan last year had imported food commodities worth $60 million against F-16s money.

And for the year 2000 the US had offered Pakistan to import food commodity worth $30 million to balance the amount. The remaining $50 million was to be utilized in the next US fiscal year 2001.

Sattar asks IMF to release package

Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar on Friday asked the International Monetary Fund to release a new loan package in order to facilitate the country in rescheduling its debts.

Speaking at a press conference at Washington National Press Club Mr Sattar said: "We are approaching the IMF largely for the rescheduling of loans so that we are able to repay these loans over a longer period of time. Pakistan is already under a mountain of debt," he added.

The country wants the new loan in part as a signal to the foreign creditors to whom it owes $38.8 billion.

Floating rate for BMR under study

Banks and development financial institutions are exploring the possibility of offering finances to the textile sector for BMR projects at a floating interest rate.

But they are yet to finalize their recommendations on this and other relevant issues and forward the same to the State Bank. The State Bank would then evaluate it before providing its own input in the textile-vision 2005 — a long term textile policy being drawn to prepare Pakistan to compete in a free of quotas and restrictions market by 2005.

Food support programme soon

Over 1.25 million households throughout the country will benefit from the Rs5 billion food support programme scheduled to be launched on August 31, its learnt on Wednesday.

An amount of Rs2.5 billion has been earmarked in the federal budget for the first year of the two-year programme.

The eligible households, selected from urban and rural population, will be provided Rs 2,000 per annum, according to official sources.