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Jul 31 -Aug 06, 2000

Shell, Caltex cut furnace oil price: PSO plans more imports

Two foreign oil marketing companies have reduced the furnace oil price by four per cent and six per cent respectively on Wednesday following in the footsteps of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), which cut the price by 14 per cent.

Shell Pakistan Limited has reduced the furnace oil price by 6.4 per cent to Rs10,907.75 per ton from Rs11,649.50 per ton inclusive of sales tax, an official in the company told.

An official in Caltex Pakistan said that the company has reduced the ex-Karachi price by four per cent to Rs11,862.25 per ton from Rs12,342 per ton.

PSO on Tuesday reduced the ex-installation furnace oil prices by 14 per cent to Rs9,778 per ton from Rs11,368.50 per ton following price fall of furnace oil in Arabian Gulf. According to PSO, it has passed on the full benefit of downward revision to its customers.

In another development, PSO on July 27 floated a second tender for fuel oil import after the government announcement of deregulating the oil sector from July 1.

A PSO official told that the company has issued a tender for import of 220,000 tons for September delivery. PSO has sought four cargoes of 55,000 tons each to be delivered at Fauji Oil Terminal at Port Qasim, the official said.

The previous PSO's tender of 240,000 tons were won by Bakri Bunker of Saudi Arabia and Petronas of Malaysia and they would supply two cargoes each early next month. The first delivery is scheduled on August 6-8, second from August 17-19, third from August 23-25 and the fourth from 29-31.

However, an official in Shell Pakistan said that they had no immediate plans to import fuel oil as it currently meets its requirements from local refineries like Pakistan Refinery Limited and National Refinery Limited.

He said we purchase fuel oil from these refineries at higher price that is why our prices are higher from PSO.

Sugar imports to cost extra $66 million

Long delay in reducing front-loading on the import of white sugar has not only resulted in soaring of the local prices, but is also going to cost another $66 million in foreign exchange, complained the importers on Thursday. On harvesting poor crop, mills this year (1999-2000) produced 2.4 million tons of white sugar which fell short by 0.6 million tons against the total domestic consumption of 3 million tons.

As early as in March this year, it had became evident to all that the country was faced with a shortfall in sugar and would need to import a sizeable quantity to meet its domestic demand.

Despite these developments people at the helm of affairs did not pay due attention towards an issue which was quite sensitive in nature because every household, whether poor or rich consumes sugar in its own capacity, a local dealer said. Consequently, white sugar which was being quoted at around $205 per ton in March in world market, has increased to $315 per ton giving a net rise of $110 per ton.

Rice worth $307m lying unsold

A huge quantity of exportable surplus of Irri-6 and Basmati rice with a tag price of around $307 million in the world market are still lying unsold with millers and some traders, exporters disclosed this on Tuesday.

Currently a balance of around two lakh tons of Irri-6 and six lakh tons of Basmati rice at a value of $37 million and $270 million, respectively have to be exported before the arrival of new paddy crop.

"Tough competition from Thailand and Vietnamese exporters elbow out Pakistani rice exporters from world market despite the fact of having advantage of proximity to markets as well as early paddy crop arrival," another exporter said.

The current procurement price of Irri-6 in the domestic market stands at around Rs8500 per ton and after adding processing and packing costs including that of fob the net cost comes to around $182 per ton.

Officials delaying wheat export, says envoy

Pakistan ambassador to Iran has said that his efforts to sign a deal with Iran for export of one million tons wheat to that country have been frustrated by the commerce ministry officials.

Sources told on Thursday that Ambassador Javaid Hussain in a letter to the foreign secretary, Inamul Haque, has said that due to his efforts the Iranian government had evinced keen interest in buying the surplus wheat from Pakistan and asked for technical analysis report from Islamabad.

Mr Javaid said: "Despite my several communications with the commerce ministry officials they have not yet sent the report to the Iranian government."

Stress on boosting exports

Speakers at a seminar on Thursday underlined the need for boosting exports with an emphasis on accelerating exports of non-traditional items.

The seminar was held under the auspices of the Export Promotion Bureau to highlight the export potential of biscuits and confectionery at its offices, says an EPB announcement.

Speaking on the occasion, EPB Vice Chairman Masood Alam Rizvi said, the Bureau was making efforts to diversify the exports of the country to non-traditional items such as biscuits and confectionery to tap their export potential.

TCP gets 18 offers

The Trading Corporation of Pakistan on Wednesday received 18 offers from foreign buyers and 27 offers from local mills for purchase of 60,000 bales of various varieties.

A senior TCP official said the Price Evaluation Committee (PEC) had considered these offers but the approval for acceptance will be taken on Thursday when TCP chairman will return from Islamabad.

He said the Corporation had floated one international tender for the export of 30,000 cotton bales and local sale of 30,000 bales.

"Overwhelming response was received from foreign buyers in the bidding as 9 merchants made 18 offers for the purchase of more than 30,000 bales", he observed.