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Nov 20 - 26, 2000

Saudi Arabia, Malaysia interested in Agosta

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have expressed interest in Pakistan's expertise for building the French-designed Agosta 90-B submarines and explored the possibilities for striking a deal in this regard.

This was stated by the naval chief, Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza while briefing newsmen on navy's efforts for self-reliance at the media centre of IDEAS 2000 defence exhibition on Thursday.

"We have been successful in the sale of midgets and we are also exploring the possibility of selling Agosta 90-B submarines to a regional country," he said.

Admiral Mirza added that Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were interested in the product. Qatar was also a buyer of Pakistan-built midgets, he said.

He said that any tri-lateral deal with regard to Agosta 90-B would not only boost Pakistan's image and credibility in international market, but also help in earning sizable foreign exchange, required for future development programmes of the services.

Admiral Mirza said the navy was looking for regional and other markets for its products.

He said that the second Agosta, now being built at the dockyard, would be delivered in 2002 and the third would be commissioned in 2004. Over 750 people were working on the project. Of them 500 had been trained in France, he added.

As the production gathers momentum, "we will certainly go for deletions for producing spare parts, which will enable us to reduce dependence on others", the admiral said.

Business to get IT draft law next month

The draft of new income tax law will be handed over to the business community sometimes next month, for incorporation of their views as government wants to include their views also, before announcing the new law, informed the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

In a meeting with the members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Wednesday, he said a committee, headed by Saeed Qureishi, has started holding meetings with various chambers who have also submitted proposals for incorporation of their views in the new law.

He rejected the impression created by the businessmen that all taxation measures were being carried out on the dictation of IMF and other donor agencies. The decisions regarding LC margins and re-introduction of IT law are part of government plan. "You will know very soon what we have negotiated with these agencies," he said.

Banks lift LC margin

Banks on Monday lifted cash margin on import letters of credit. The decision will take effect from Tuesday.

President of National Bank S. Ali Raza and his counterpart in Habib Bank Zakir Mahmood announced the decision on behalf of all banks at a joint press conference held at the NBP head office.

They said banks decided to lift the cash margin because it had served the purpose of easing off the volatility in the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

Banks had imposed 30 per cent cash margin on all imports minus crude oil and petroleum products on October 5 after the rupee had hit a lifetime low of 59.95 to a dollar in the inter-bank market.

The imposition of margin was well-aligned with some monetary measures taken by the State Bank contributed its bit in averting a free fall of the rupee.

Bosnia seeks cooperation

Bosnia has invited Pakistani entrepreneurs to actively participate in privatization of its defence industry, which once held fourth position in terms of capacity and size in Europe.

Bosnian Ambassador Faik Uzunovic told Pakistani businessmen late Wednesday that the defence industry was a sensitive issue. Therefore, Bosnia would prefer friends from Pakistan to enter into joint ventures in this sector, he said.

Musharraf meets Khatami

The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, called on Iranian President Sayed Muhammad Khatami on Tuesday and discussed with him matters of mutual interest. The discussion centred on regional matters, including the situation in Afghanistan and in occupied Kashmir. The matters relating to furthering the economic developments were also discussed, according to an FO official.

The CE appreciated the Iranian president for his role as chairman of the eighth Islamic summit and said that under his guidance the OIC had gained a lot.

In their meeting, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Muhammad and Gen Musharraf stressed the need for unity in the Muslim world. They agreed that it was important for the developing countries to invest in education to raise the level of literacy.

Free cotton trade policy to continue

The Federal Textile Board, in its first meeting on Monday, decided to follow a free cotton trade policy with no government intervention in the market at this moment.

Commerce and Industries Minister Abdul Razak Dawood, who presided over the meeting, assured the participants that the difficulties regarding SROs 818, 369 and 417 would be attended on priority basis to facilitate the industry in improving the production and export performance.

Gwadar port project delayed

Paucity of funds and prevailing financial crisis have forced the federal government to delay the construction of deep-sea port at Gwadar at least for a year, it is reliably learnt.

Construction work was expected to begin in the current fiscal. However, financial problems forced the government to change its plan.

According to reliable sources, the ministry of communication was supposed to spend around three billion rupees during the current fiscal year and an announcement in this regard was also made by the Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, during his visit to Mekran coast earlier this year. However, no allocation could be made as no funds were available with the ministry.