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Oct 30 - Nov 05, 2000

Sale agreement for SSGC's LPG assets signed

Privatization Commission, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), and Caltex Oil Pakistan Limited signed an agreement, on Thursday, for the sale of assets of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) business of the SSGC.

Caltex Oils (Pakistan) Limited, being the highest bidder for LPG business of (SSGC), was previously declared a successful bidder by the Board of Directors of SSGC and the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP). Bidding for this sale was held on August 24.

The entire process has been hailed as transparent and well conducted by all parties. Arshad Nasar, Managing Director of Caltex Oil (Pakistan) Ltd said, the process of privatization had been the most transparent and a model.

Caltex intended to gear up it's participation in the upcoming investment opportunities, he said.

The process was initiated in February this year and 25 parties of national and international repute responded. The level of interest shows the confidence of investors in government. Parties conducted their due diligence and participated in the bidding. Caltex Oils (Pakistan) Limited emerged as the highest bidder for the LPG Business of SSGC with an offer of Rs369 million. After getting approvals from the Board of Directors of SSGC and the CCOP, Caltex was declared as the successful bidder.

The government has also deregulated the LPG sector, which will lead to competition and better services for consumers. As part of the overall reform and restructuring of the sector, the LPG business of SSGC has also been divested. Major assets available in it include quota of 20,000 metric tons a year, Bottling Plant Storage Tank in Karachi, Quetta and Dhurnal. Presently SSGC's 220,000 domestic and commercial cylinders are in circulation.

Ahmad Waqar, acting Secretary PC, Arshad Nasar, MD, Caltex and Mukhtar Ahmed, MD, SSGC signed the agreement, in the presence of the Chairman PC, M. Altaf Saleem and the Secretary Petroleum, Abdullah Yousef, ushering in positive steps for the privatization of public sector entities, which will boost fresh investments in the country.

New plan for oil, gas exploration

The government is chalking out a comprehensive strategy to counter any anti-oil exploration move of local leaders in Balochistan.

In a meeting chaired by the Interior Minister, Lt-Gen (retd) Moinuddin Haider, on Thursday, the government decided to carry out oil and gas exploration projects in the province after tackling the opposition of locals effectively.

The meeting was also attended by Governor Balochistan Justice (retd) Amirul Mulk Mengal, Federal Minister for Petroleum Usman Aminuddin and other high-ranking civil and military officers reportedly including the corps commander Quetta.

According to a source, the meeting decided that in case of any opposition, the local leaders would be first persuaded through a dialogue process to allow oil and gas exploration activities in their areas of influence. Otherwise, the source said, the government would use authority to achieve this goal.

KAPCO agrees to cut power rate

A reduction in power tariff from 5.6 cents per Kwh to 4.8 cents, at the Kot Addu Power Company (KAPCO), would help Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to save US$ 1.5 billion during the next 25 years.

This was one of the main highlights of an amicable settlement arrived at between WAPDA and KAPCO on Wednesday.

WAPDA Chairman Lt. Gen. Zulfiqar Ali Khan and Mr Peter Giller, Chief Executive of International Power Company, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to settle all disputes relating to the joint management of KAPCO, as well as the power tariff issue.

Announcing the settlement at a news conference, Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz, the WAPDA chairman and chief executive of IPC said that the agreement would substantially help to resolve similar problems with the Hub Power Company (Hubco).

Mobile phones incoming calls free

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Wednesday made the incoming calls free on the mobile phones paving the way for growth of cell phone industry in the country and reduced tariffs to mobile phone users.

Announcing the decision, PTA Chairman Mian Mohammad Javed said the authority has come up with the best CPP (Calling Party Pays) regime in the country after an amicable interconnect agreement with the three private sector mobile phone companies and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL).

New edible oil policy prepared

A new policy has been prepared, envisaging rise in edible oil production to 1.0 million tons by year 2003, reduction in imports, enlargement in cultivation area, elimination of oilseed imports, and restructuring of Oilseed Development Board.

The policy underscores need to immediately resolve issues of duty adjustment on various oils and seeds and decision to promote local oilseed production.

SECP imposes Rs7m penalty

The Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has imposed a penalty of Rs7 million on chairman/chief executive and six other directors of M/s Nafees Textile Mills, allegedly for transferring an amount of Rs38 million to an associated company in violation of the Companies Ordinance, 1984 (CO).

According to an order issued by the SECP under Section 208 read with section 476 of CO, the company had shown this amount as a short-term loan at the rate of 18 per cent per annum to M/s Legler Nafees Denim Mills Limited (LNDM) in its statement of accounts for the year ended 30.9.1999.

Rs162bn investment in oil, gas on agenda

The government is taking up a three-year investment programme of Rs162 billion in the oil and gas sector. Of this proposed investment, Rs93 billion (almost $1.5 billion) is expected to come from the private sector.

Oil business sources say that the government plans to inject Rs7.95 billion through budgetary allocations and Rs59 billion investment would be taken up outside the budget during the next three years.