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Sep 11 - 17, 2000

CE offers no-war pact to India

Pakistan on Wednesday firmly proposed a no-war pact and a mutual reduction in forces with India as General Pervez Musharraf told the UN Millennium Summit his country was prepared to take "bold initiatives to change the status quo".

In his maiden speech to 152 heads of state and government, the chief executive said he was prepared for a dialogue with India "at any level, at any time and anywhere. Let me commit at this world forum that we desire a no-war pact; we are ready for a mutual reduction of forces and we also seek a South Asia free from all nuclear weapons," Gen Musharraf said.

His five-minute speech covered the Kashmir dispute in detail but he also assured the international community that his regime was "sincerely committed to rebuilding and strengthening the institutions of state to give the country a genuine and durable democracy."

"Pakistan remains conscious of international concern for democracy," he said. "Our founding father Quaid-i-Azam envisioned Pakistan as a modern Islamic state, committed to democracy based on equality, freedom and social justice. The people of Pakistan have never lost faith in democracy, but autocracy in the garb of democracy led to dishonest governance and the collapse of institutions."

He said Kashmir and Palestine were two prime examples of festering disputes where the UN charter had been defied. "Whereas the international community is seriously engaged in finding a solution to Palestine, Kashmir cries for justice even after 52 years," he pointed out.

He said South Asia was deprived of economic progress because Kashmiri people remained deprived of justice. "The consequence of this injustice has been four wars, the region stands heavily militarized and nuclearized."

Package announced for EPZ investors

Under a new package of facilities to the EPZ investors, the Export Processing Zones have been allowed by the government to import finished goods duty and tax-free for onward export to regional states.

Restrictions of removing duty and tax free machinery and vehicles imported by them have been removed, and the EPZ manufacturers have been accorded the status of bonded warehouses.

The facility of importing finished goods for onward export without payment of duty and taxes is available to no other category of investors in Pakistan. The EPZ investors would, however, pay duties and taxes on such goods if they sell them into the local market.

Increase in power tariff allowed

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has allowed the Water and Power Development Authority to increase the electricity rate by 13 paisa per unit, a Nepra statement said on Thursday.

The tariff increase had been allowed as an interim arrangement till the completion of hearing on WAPDA's petition, seeking a 31 paisa increase, it said. WAPDA has also sought permission from Nepra for automatic adjustment of power rates due to variations in international oil prices and rupee-dollar exchange rate under 'fuel price indexation factor' formula.

IMF team dicusses

The visiting IMF review mission again on Wednesday met officials of the ministries of finance and petroleum and discussed issues pertaining to state corporations, banks and further deregulation of petroleum sector.

Dealers allowed to stock sugar

The government and sugar dealers on Monday agreed that any sugar dealer or stockist having less than 3000 bags of sugar in the stock will not be charged with hoarding, it is reliably learnt.

The understanding was reached at a meeting of a 14-member delegation of Pakistan Sugar Dealers Association with commerce minister Razzak Dawood.

Four items under 15pc sales tax net

The federal government has announced levy of sales tax at the rate of 15 per cent on cigarette, ice-cream, fruit juices, aerated water and beverages manufacturers.

The facility of paying 2% sales tax by the producers of these items has been withdrawn through a Presidential Ordinance issued here on Tuesday. This facility, so far, was available to those producers whose annual turnover was above Rs500,000 but not more than Rs2.5 million.

KESC allowed to raise tariff

The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet has, in principle, allowed the KESC to increase its tariff by 25 per cent during the next three years to enable it to qualify for a $225 million loan for its financial restructuring.

The ECC meeting on Monday considered the KESC's summary for increasing the power tariff by 8.33pc per annum for the next three years to qualify for the $225 million ADB loan and agreed with it.

In order to qualify for the first tranche of $150 million, the KESC will have to increase the tariff by 8.33pc before December.

Saudi Fertilizer's sell-off

The Privatization Commission (PC) has finalized a number of deals for sell off and plans to complete the process before the year ends. Disinvestment of Saudi Fertilizer Company and gas meter manufacturing unit are to be completed in September and October, respectively.

MNCs cool to SBP warning

They are makers of popular soft drinks that are getting even more popular in Pakistan thanks to the TV ads featuring cricket super stars. But production of soft drinks is not in question.

What is in question is that they have purchased $30-$35 million from the open market thereby pushing the dollar up to new peaks in the past few months.

And they are not the only one. Other multinationals and some local corporates as well have made heavy buying of the dollar from the open market during this period. The total buying of this sort stands between $100-$150 million.

Ordinances issued

The federal government has announced an Enlistment Tax for the country's retail sector at the rate of one per cent here on Tuesday.

This was announced through a Presidential Ordinance issued, on Tuesday. The retailers will be pay one per cent tax on their sales and 16.5% on their purchases under it. The facility is available until June 30, 2001.