. .

Jul 31 - Aug 06, 2000

Refinery operations to begin in Sept: Usman

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Usman Aminuddin said on Saturday that mid-country refinery at Mahmoodkot will be commissioned by Sept 30, 2000.

This he said while presiding over a high-level meeting at PARCO head offices here, which reviewed updated progress on PARCO's mid- country refinery and 840 kilometres long $ 550 million white oil pipeline from Karachi to Mahmood Kot.

The minister observed that the commissioning of PARCO's long awaited Mid-Country Refinery and much needed white oil pipeline projects from Karachi to Mahmood Kot (Muzffargarh) will bring a revolutionary development in oil and gas sector.

Managing Director, PARCO Dr. Shahid H Hak gave a detailed presentation on the updated progress of 100,000 barrels per day mid-country refinery costing to US dollar 886 million.

The meeting was informed that necessary arrangement for crude procurement and affreightment have been finalized and the first oil tanker crude will be berth at Karachi port next week.

Arrangements for storage and transportation of crude through PARCO's pipeline to Mid-Country Refinery were already in place. It was further informed that PARCO has already finalized its refinery's products off-take agreements with Shell, Caltex and PSO. PARCO has also finalized agreements for sale of 75 per cent liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) production of its refinery.

The remaining 25 per cent will be marketed as PARCO's 'PEARL' brand under a Technical Services and Support Agreement (TSSA) with SHV of Holland. PARCO has also entered the downstream marketing of refinery products by introducing 'Pearl Gas' and 'Pearl Lubes' being imported from OMV of Austria.

Pakistan, Japan agree to evolve farm strategy

Japan and Pakistan have agreed to evolve joint agriculture strategy for guarding their interests at the WTO's regional conference for Asia Pacific countries scheduled to be held next month.

This was agreed on Friday during a high-level meeting held between the officials of the agriculture ministry and three senior officials of ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Japan.

The Federal Secretary Agriculture, Dr Zafar Altaf and ministry's economic consultant Dr Zakir Hussain represented the Pakistani side during the negotiation.

The overall discussion remained focused on genetically modified technology, agriculture, forestry, fishery production etc.

Sources said both sides discussed and exchanged views on world food summit follow-up, sustainable agricultural development and poverty alleviation in the next millennium and implications and development of biotechnology. "We will also have the chance to share our experience in agricultural sector's development", sources quoted the Japanese delegation as saying to their Pakistani counterparts.

Developing a regional hub at Gwadar

Finally, the present government wins the credit to construct the Gwadar seaport, which will be the third port in the country. Gwadar is located on the Balochistan coast about 234 nautical miles West of Karachi and 390 nautical miles east of the Gulf of Hormuz.

The port will serve as a regional hub in view of geo-political changes in our region. In fact, when it starts operating, it will facilitate traffic to and from the ports of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan and the land-locked Central Asian states.

Despite immense benefits to Pakistan, the port, fully protected from southwest monsoon waves, has many natural advantages which can offer tremendous opportunities to the neighbouring states during the time of emergency.

Particularly, oil-producing and -importing countries will be provided with huge oil storage space for onward transportation.

Documentation of Economy

The IMF experts would next week conduct an evaluation of the present government's programme to tap Rs100 billion from the survey for documentation of the economy, following an appraisal by the Fund consultants that the survey would add to the kitty no more than Rs25-30 billion.

The IMF experts, scheduled to visit Islamabad sometime next week, are also aiming at finalizing a monitoring mechanism for development budget allocations which in the past have been "regularly diverted" for non-development purposes, say official sources.

SRO on textile quota amended

The ministry of commerce has announced that textile quota surrendered by exporters in a year, would not be re-credited to them in the succeeding year.

An MoC spokesman stated on Thursday said that notification No SRO 1(I)/ 2000, dated Jan 6, regarding surrendering of quota, has accordingly been amended. This amendment restores the original provisions of the quota-surrendering policy, which does not allow the re-crediting of surrendered quota in a year, in the succeeding year.

Inputs cost shies away investors

The high cost of industrial inputs has dampened foreign and local investors' interest in the privatization process. In a report sent to the foreign donors on why the privatization process in Pakistan has not taken off even after a decade-long efforts, the government has stated that the process has been constrained by a number of factors including a lack of depth in the domestic capital market and a lukewarm international investor interest in this process.

The not-so-active interest of the international investors in the privatization process has been attributed by the government to the high country risk, economic sanctions, lack of depth in domestic capital market and high cost of industrial inputs, such as electricity, oil and credit.