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Aug 21 - 27, 2000

Nigeria wants joint ventures in industrial sector

Three states of Nigeria are interested in joint ventures in sugar processing units: pharmaceutical, cement and textile industries, besides exporting rice.

The visiting governors of the three Nigerian states conveyed their desire during a meeting with Chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI), Waseem Haqqui on Friday.

The Nigerian delegation includes Haji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, executive governor of Sokoto State, Haji Mohammad Adamu Aliero, executive governor of Kebbi and Sani Ahmad Rufai, executive governor of Zamfara state.

The governors assured the BoI chairman that the union of the three states and Nigerian government would extend necessary support including financial backing and sovereign guarantees to the private-sector joint ventures, a participant of the meeting said.

An official statement said that deputy chairman Planning Commission Shahid Amjad assured the visiting dignitaries of financial backing from the government required to materialize the economic cooperation between the two countries.

Secretary, industries and production informed the delegation that Pakistan was capable of manufacturing textile, sugar and cement plants for Nigeria. He said that Pakistan was manufacturing 90 per cent parts of tractors, 70 per cent of motor bikes and 40 per cent of cars.

Governor of Zamfara State told the meeting that Nigeria had been importing sugar worth $1.5 billion, which is exported to the neighbouring countries in addition to local consumption.

'Offshore drilling package on cards'

Minister for petroleum and natural resources Usman Aminuddin has said that the government will shortly announce a special package to attract investment in offshore oil exploration.

"We are developing the package to further intensify investment particularly for deep offshore drilling," he said this in an interview.

The minister said the major thrust is to restore investors confidence and various steps have been taken to achieve this objective.

"Our effort is to convince some of the investors who are planning to leave Pakistan," he added.

He said, foreign investment worth $640 million was brought in both upstream and downstream oil and gas sector in last 8 to 9 months.

Farm, power sector use major foreign loans

The agriculture, water and power sectors have consumed $19.93bn since '60 which is 48.25% of the $41.16bn loan received from the international agencies and countries by Pakistan.

This has been disclosed in the first-ever report on the sector-wise utilization of foreign debt taken by Pakistan since '60. The report was presented to the chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf during a recent briefing on foreign debt.

Total loan has been calculated at $41.16bn, out of which agriculture, water and power sectors consumed $3.2 and $16.63bn respectively during the last 40 years.

Quoting from the report, sources said, $5.61bn which is 13.6% of the total foreign loan, was utilized in the public sector industry since '60.

The telecommunication and communication sectors utilized 14.2% of the total debt which is $ 5.82bn, while the population and welfare sector utilized $0.55bn which is 1.3% of the total loan.

Fishing equipments

Fishing sector has been exempted from customs duty on import of its machinery. A CBR notification No C.3(3) Mach/T.P/2000, dated Aug 12, issued on Wednesday, allows exemption from customs duty to items like fish-finders, storage, handling and navigational equipment not manufactured locally.

The exemption will be available only in case the items are imported by the fishing industry, including fish farming, catching stage operators. The industry has also been given the status of indirect exporters under the notification.

SEPZ development

The government has accelerated the pace of progress of Sialkot Export Processing Zone by making a special grant of Rs2.2m, it was officially stated on Tuesday.

The special grant would be used for payment of compensation to land and tubewell owners who have made way for the development of the zone.

The sources said that under the grant, special emphasis would be given on the construction of roads and development of the zone's site. Similarly, special funds have also been provided for the relaying of Sialkot-Wazirabad road, it added.

Inflation up by 4.98% in July

Rate of inflation measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 4.98% during July 2000 compared to the corresponding month of last year, according to Monthly Review of Price Index released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics here on Saturday.

In a rare concession to the real experience of unrelieved spiral of cost of living, the FBS's Review admits that both CPI and the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), which measures the prices particularly relevant to households with incomes below Rs1500 per month, have gone up over the past year.

While in July 1999, CPI and SPI registered higher increases during last month and rose to 4.98% and 3.80%, as compared to 3.49% and 3.50% respectively in July 1999 over the corresponding month of preceding year.

When compared to June 2000, however, the FBS reports that SPI increased by 0.77% and CPI by 0.56% as against 0.33% and 0.68%, respectively, during July 1999 over the corresponding period of 1998. Thus the SPI stood at 235.73 at the end of July 2000.