Aug 28 -
Sep 03, 2000
Rs5 billion Information Technology policy unveiled
The government has unveiled an information technology policy,
allocating Rs5 billion for the development of the IT and telecommunication
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the federal
minister for science and technology, Prof Attaur Rehman, said that under the
policy, which had already been approved by the federal cabinet, four IT
universities and one virtual IT university would be set up. He added that a
faculty of IT teachers and professionals would be engaged from abroad.
The minister said a National Testing and Accreditation
Service would be set up to ensure quality IT education and training.
A written press statement containing the salient features of
the policy said the government had committed Rs5 billion for the IT and
telecommunication sector for 2000-2001. Rs2 billion, it said, had already been
allocated as a block allocation.
The minister said IT boards would be set up in all the
provinces. He added that the government would include local software houses in
He said that for the development of the hardware industry the
government would waive duties and taxes on the import of hardware, and would
offer incentives aimed at reducing the cost of raw material and inputs.
Mr Rehman said that for the growth of the internet,
unnecessary regulations would be avoided and its provision at low cost would be
He said the government was currently working on legislations,
such as the digital signature act, the intellectual property and copyright act
and the consumer protection act, to provide protection and enhance the
confidence of users, providers and facilitators of information services.
Musharraf, Mori hold wide-ranging talks
The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, on Monday assured
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori that Pakistan would always act in the most
responsible manner in the nuclear field and would not be the first to break its
moratorium on nuclear tests.
Islamabad would be open to any offer to intercede on or
mediate in the Kashmir dispute with Delhi as has been repeatedly stated earlier,
the Foreign Office spokesman told a news briefing.
At their formal talks, the CE urged the Japanese premier to
assist Pakistan in relieving the debt burden. Mr Mori reiterated that full
economic relations, including the aid, would have to wait till Islamabad adhered
to the CTBT and nuclear non-proliferation.
The CE informed the Japanese premier that the economic
sanctions imposed on Pakistan were a serious handicap in its efforts to recover
and restructure its economic and political affairs. Tokyo and several other
industrialized countries had slapped those sanctions on Islamabad after its
nuclear tests in response to India's in May, 1998.
Support price initiative suspended
The Chief Executive office has immediately suspended finance
ministry's initiative to abolish support price system for seven agricultural
commodities by notifying an inter provincial nine-member support price committee
under the Chairmanship of M. Shafi Niaz, an Advisor to the CE General Pervez
Musharraf on Agriculture.
The agriculture ministers of NWFP, Sindh, Balochistan and
Punjab provinces have been made members of the new support price committee which
has been constituted on the demand of agriculture ministry.
50% insurance cos may wind up
About 50 per cent of the private general insurance companies
will be pushed out of the business following the promulgation of Insurance
Ordinance 2000, on Saturday after the repeal of Insurance Act 1938.
The new ordinance sets for private insurance operators higher
limits for capital base to be met in next three years, fixes a solvency margin
that excludes the furniture, fixtures and vehicles and receivables as company's
assets, enhances the statutory deposit requirement by 33 times from Rs350
thousand to Rs10 million. It grants sweeping powers to the Security Exchange
Commission of Pakistan (SECP) which would decide every year the extension of
business licence to any insurance operator on virtual discretion.
Sales tax reimposed
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has said that the sales tax is
being reimposed on cement under a new package prepared for the industry which
envisages removal of excise tax which he said "is a dying tax".
The finance minister said four cement units in the Frontier
province, which have been allowed sales tax exemption under a package operative
up to the end of Dec 31, 2000, will remain exempted. "They have been
offered the facility under a contractual settlement", he said.
PC gets Rs630 mn offer
The Privatization Commission received a total offer of Rs630
million when the LPG business of three state-owned companies came under hammer
The bidding of LPG business of Sui Southern Gas Company was
closed at the highest Rs369 million offered by Caltex. SHV, another private
firm, offered Rs140 for PSO's LPG business, while Petrosin won the bidding of
SNGPL at the highest offer of Rs121 million.
WB lauds devolution plan
The World Bank praises the present government's initiative on
devolution plan and also lauds its efforts to build Kalabagh dam but without
showing any sign of financial assistance. Influential diplomatic sources told
that the World Bank agreed that the Kalabagh dam was the most viable project to
be pursued by the government.
SBP warning on TCs buying
The State Bank on Wednesday warned authorized money changers
to desist from buying travellers cheques. It also asked them to file their
weekly statements of sales and purchases regularly.
If money changers fail to comply with these instructions
their licences would be cancelled. An SBP circular (F.E. no 13) reminded money
changers that in July last year the SBP had refrained them from buying or
selling travellers cheques and made it clear that they were supposed to deal in
"foreign currency notes and coins only."