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Feb 21 - 27, 2000

  1. International
  2. Finance
  3. Industry
  4. Policy
  5. Trade
  6. Gulf

Govt to review POL prices next month

The government will review the petroleum prices next month and if the prices in the international market remain high, an upward revision will be made in the POL prices at home.

The Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Usman Aminuddin, and Secretary Petroleum Abdullah Yousaf told the press that the petroleum prices would be reviewed after every three months. The price of furnace oil, however, would be reviewed every month.

The officials said that if the petrol prices in the international market came down, the relief would be passed on to the consumers. But if the prices remained high, the government will have no other option but to make an upward revision in the prices.

When the secretary petroleum was asked to comment on his statement that the prices of furnace oil had not been increased, the secretary said he was at fault.

He explained that he was out of the country when the increase in the price of furnace oil was made and when the press reporter phoned him to inquire about the increase on Wednesday night, he was not aware of it and it was too late to check it from the concerned officials. The secretary agreed with the questioner that a press release should have been issued by the ministry.

The officials hoped that the increase in the furnace oil would not result in price hike. They said that except for 15 per cent general sales tax on the furnace oil, no other tax had been levied by the government.

On December 11, 1999 the government had increased the prices of petroleum products by an average of over 10 per cent.

The increase had pushed up the price of one litre petrol (Premier) from Rs 26.04 to Rs. 29.

Clinton says Pakistan trip still a possibility

US President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday he might still visit Pakistan next month as part of a planned South Asian tour but only if he felt it would further US interests.

"I haven't decided whether I'm going to Pakistan or not ... I will make a decision based on what I think will best serve our long-term interests," Clinton told a news conference.

He defined those interests as the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, preventing an arms race and resolving ongoing disputes between India and Pakistan particularly over Kashmir.

Clinton said he hoped his trip, now scheduled to include only India and Bangladesh, would raise awareness in the United States about the dangers posed by fighting between New Delhi and Islamabad, both of which now have nuclear arsenals.

Wapda may accept 17.3pc cut in Hubco tariff

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) is likely to accept the latest Hub Power Company offer of a 17.3 percent cut in tariff in exchange for concessions on fuel oil imports.

Details of the new proposals are still being worked out at Wapda House Lahore, and credible sources have confirmed that General Zulfikar has shown some inclination towards accepting the proposal.

According to preliminary indications, the government will have to give concessions to the power producer on the import of furnace oil in the country.

General Zulfikar had been advocating minimum of 30 percent reduction in the Hubco tariff. However, sources close to him said that the government wanted to resolve the issue before the deadline for the Paris Club rescheduling comes closer.

New Insurance Act by next month

The revised Insurance Act will be promulgated by next month which envisages changes to protect the rights of the insured, officials at the commerce ministry said here on Tuesday.

The Ministry is busy in giving final touches to the draft. The process to revise the existing Insurance Act was on for the last six months.

According to the officials, there are major changes in the solvency margin, capital requirement and expense ratio. The paid-up capital limit is likely to be increased both for the life insurance as well as the general insurance companies.

New cotton policy

The federal ministry of agriculture has started contacting various interest groups of farmers in a quest to develop new cotton policy.

Official sources told that the federal government wanted the fresh policy to be finalized and announced for the coming season before cotton sowing.

SBP mulling transfer of some key jobs to NBP

The State Bank of Pakistan is considering to retain the job of monitoring and supervision of the banking system while transferring important functions including government's payments and receipts to the National Bank.

Official sources told that the issuance of fresh currency notes may also be handed over to the National Bank.

Governor State Bank Dr Ishrat Hussain believes that the central bank should mainly be conducting the supervision and monitoring of commercial banks and the banking system and that the rest of the job should be handed over to the NBP or any other commercial bank.

Fuel, gas, telecom and financial sectors' sell-off to fetch $3 bn

The privatisation of state-run companies in fuel, gas, telecom and financial sectors are likely to fetch over $3 billion helping the government to retire its short-term expensive foreign loans due by next year.

The new privatization policy is expected to be announced this week and the reconstituted Privatization Commission has indicated that oil and gas sector is the priority, replacing the financial sector. Pak Telecom is ready for privatization and the government is waiting for the green signal from its financial adviser, Goldman Sachs.

The information available revealed that under the new mechanism cited by the Privatisation Commission, during zero to eight months, Sui Northern Gas, Sui Southern Gas and fertilizer companies' shares are likely to be sold to foreign investors, while in eight to 18 months, the government would sell its stakes in PSO, PTCL and Habib Bank.