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Jan 01 - 14, 2001

Ministry seeks cut in power rates

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has called for reduction in electricity charges following a 22 per cent decrease in the furnace oil prices during the last one year.

"We certainly want reduction in electricity tariff for the consumers because of the huge 22 per cent reduction in the furnace oil prices," said Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Abdullah Yousuf.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, he said that the issue should be considered by WAPDA, KESC and other Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The furnace oil import, he pointed out, has been de-regulated for all power producers including WAPDA and the KESC and that they should now consider reduction in power tariff for consumers due to the continued declining trends of the product.

Interestingly, while the petroleum ministry was seeking reduction in power charges, WAPDA has just been allowed to revise upward its tariff by 9.54 per cent by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) from September 2000.

"This is a simple formula and it does not require much to ponder. If the input cost has reduced, output cost should automatically go down," he added.

The petroleum secretary also disclosed that the government was considering allowing general traders to import furnace oil.

"At present general traders are not eligible to import furnace oil but they would soon be allowed to enter the field," he said, adding that the government wanted to further de-regulate the furnace oil import for the benefit of all businessmen.

Mr Yousuf regretted that the IPPs including WAPDA were maintaining that the ministry of petroleum was benefiting from the import of furnace oil because of the monopoly of the Pakistan State Oil over the issue. He said since the import of furnace oil has been de-regulated, all the agencies concerned could import the product on their own and that people should not unnecessarily criticize the ministry in this behalf.

KSE ranked 2nd best

After China, which recorded phenomenal 51.7 per cent growth in stock values during the year 2000, the Karachi stock market ranked as second best among the 14 regional markets, calculations made by analysts at brokerage, Invest Capital & Securities (Pvt) Limited, revealed.

With a year-on-year improvement of 7 per cent (99 points) in the KSE-100 index, the Karachi share market out-performed the rest of 13 stock markets in the region, all of which lost values-ranging between least loss of 11 per cent in Hong Kong and the highest fall of 50.9 per cent in South Korea.

The Indian stocks dropped 20.7 per cent during the year; Indonesia by 38.5 per cent; Thailand by 44.2 per cent; Taiwan by 43.9 per cent; Japan by 27.2 per cent and Philippines by 30.3 per cent.

New fertilizer investors to get incentives

The government is planning to give lucrative incentives to new investors in the fertilizer industry to increase local fertilizer production and meet the rising demand of this commodity in the farm sector.

This was stated by the Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood, while presiding over a meeting on formulation of fertilizer policy 2000-2001, on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of the private and public sector fertilizer manufacturers.

The minister said government was fully alive to the needs and requirements of the agriculture sector and endeavouring to cope with the increasing demand of fertilizer in a manner to encourage not only the existing manufacturers but also the new investors so that ultimate advantage may be transferred to the farmers and consumers.

Pakistan bid to join Shanghai Five group

Pakistan has made a formal bid to join the Shanghai Five security forum comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, Jane's Defence Weekly reported in its latest issue.

Islamabad had submitted its application to the group's current chair Tajikistan, which was pending, the weekly said.

The Shanghai Five was launched in 1996 and its initial agenda, centred on border-related confidence-building measures, was expanded at the 1999 Bishkek Summit to cover a wider range of security-related and economic issues.

The broadened agenda includes developing cooperative measures to address issues such as international terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling.

ST collection

The sales tax collectorates (East & West), Karachi, have achieved an increase of 33.27 per cent in their collections during first half (July-Dec 2000) of current fiscal, official sources disclosed on Wednesday. The collection figures of both the collectorates show that in total Rs13.698 billion were collected during first half of the current fiscal as against Rs10.277 billion during the corresponding period of last fiscal.

Outside directors

The Karachi Stock Exchange on Wednesday notified the names of seven non-member directors to its board. These include Istaqbal Mehdi (chairman NIT and ICP); Javed Calea (CEO Crescent Leasing); Mohammad Habib-ur-Rahman (CEO Abamco); Najam I.Chaudhri (Partner, A.F. Ferguson & Co., chartered accountants); Tariq Mohamed Amin (chief representative, Rhone Poulenc Rorer Pakistan); Zafar Iqbal (CEO Paramount Leasing) and Zaigham Mehmood Rizvi (MD, Pak Libya Holding Company).

VIS disallowed

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has disallowed M/s DCR-VIS Credit Rating Company to assign ratings to any company till such time that it enters into collaboration with an internationally recognized counterpart institution.

DCR-VIS, which was registered on May 20, 1997, under the Credit Rating Rules, 1995, had a joint venture agreement with Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Company (DCR). Pakistan had two credit rating companies since then.