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Nov 13 - 19, 2000

Japan, China to help Pakistan develop IT

Japan and China will provide assistance to Pakistan for training in information technology and setting up hi-tech projects, science and technology minister Dr Atta-ur-Rehman said on Tuesday.

The minister said he had signed several memorandum of understandings during his visit to China and Japan.

Rehman, who travelled with Pakistani software businessmen, said talks in Japan and China focused on the promotion of software.

The Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) would also provide training for 100 engineers, he said.

Pakistan would hire 50 IT teachers from Japan.

Hitachi Corporation also agreed on a plan to establish an IT company in Pakistan and Komatsu of Japan would expand its base in Pakistan and train software engineers, he added.

Dr Rehman described his China visit as very useful and said 43 projects were concluded with the Chinese government which would be implemented in the current year for promoting engineering, agriculture, pharmaceutical, chemicals and ocean resources.

"The Chinese government would be helping us in setting optic fibre rings around the cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for high-speed internet access."

Dr Rehman said details were being worked out with China for making low-priced and high-quality computer equipment in Pakistan.

Great Wall Corporation plans to manufacture and export 70 per cent of its products under the IBM trade mark and Pakistan would be used as a platform for exports to the Middle East.

The government has launched an ambitious plan to develop the country's IT infrastructure. The plan unveiled in August envisages an expenditure of five billion rupees over the next few years including training of 100,000 people a year.

Internet access will be available in 4,000 cities, towns and villages by the year 2002, officials said.

Optimism expressed over improvement in ties with Russia

Leading foreign policy experts and intellectuals from Germany, Russia, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan, have expressed their optimism that relations between Pakistan and Russia had bright chances of improving, provided serious confidence building measures were taken by both the states.

These views were aired at the conclusion of a two-day seminar on "Confidence Building Measures between Pakistan, Russia and Central Asia" organised by the Area Study Centre for Russia and Central Asia of the University of Peshawar, on Wednesday.

Dr Andreas Aieck from the German-Orient Institute at Hamburg said, "the biggest fear that Russia and neighbouring countries feel from the emergence of the Taliban government in Afghanistan was the extension of Islamic radicalism which has taken the shape of terrorism in the whole region".

IDB to disburse $150m soon

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to expedite disbursement of $150 million to Pakistan under the trade financing schemes.

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz met the Vice President (Operations) of the IDB, Ousmane Seck, on Wednesday to hold discussion in this regard. Secretary Economic Affairs, Naveed Ahsan, later told APP that during the meeting Pakistan asked the IDB to speed up the disbursement of fund amounting to $150 million, being extended under the trade financing schemes.

Oil extracting units exempted from ST

The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has exempted the cotton-seed oil extracting units from getting registered and filing sales tax invoices.

Through a notification No 823(I)/2000, issued on Wednesday, the CBR announced that the cotton-seed oil extracting units, which were previously bound to make their supplies through tax-invoice, and had to get registered for paying tax and issuing tax-invoices, are no longer required to do this exercise.

FPCCI signs agreement

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Board of Trade of Thailand (BOT) have inked an agreement on November 7 at Bangkok for setting up of Pak- Thailand Joint Economic Cooperation Committee.

The agreement was signed by president FPCCI, Fazal ur Rahman Dittu and Vichiem Teapalbul, chairman BOT on behalf of their organizations, FPCCI press release said.

Islamabad pushes for oil, gas from Central Asia

The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, voiced strong support on Tuesday for developing new oil and gas pipeline projects with resource-rich Central Asia.

"We would like to be part of the arrangements for gas from Turkmenistan and eventually oil from Kazakhstan," said Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, who accompanied Gen Musharraf.

His comments came after Gen Musharraf revealed he had made a brief stopover in Turkmenistan, during which he discussed bilateral relations with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Mr Sattar said talks had again focused on the multi-billion dollar, 1,600-km gas pipeline proposal from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Bari Rice Mills

Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan has allowed M/s Bari Rice Mills Ltd to buy back minority shareholders' shares at the rate of Rs16 each as a compensation for non-receipt of any return on their investment, according to an official source.

KESC allowed to increase tariff

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) upheld on Saturday the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation's request for 13 paisa a unit increase in power rate.

The interim relief has been allowed till the decision on the power company's petition for an increase of 31 per cent or Rs1.33 a unit in the electricity tariff in three phases from Nov 1, 2000 to July 1, 2002, a Nepra statement said.