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Mar 12 - 25, 2001

Pakistan seeks $6 billion soft-term loans

Pakistan has requested for $6 billion soft-term loan from foreign donors to gradually pay off its huge $21 billion foreign loans during the next four-year period.

"We have requested for both soft-term loans and grants at the end of the three-day meeting of the Pakistan Development Forum (PDF)," said Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz.

Speaking at a news conference with World Bank Vice President Ms Meiko Nishimizu on Wednesday, he said Pakistan has also made it clear that it planned to implement its own home-grown structural reforms programme to revive the economy rather than accepting any foreign recipe.

Both were asked whether the donors have taken up the report of the Debt Reduction and Management Committee in which they were expected to help Pakistan by offering $6 billion soft-term loan and $4 billion debt relief for paying its $21 billion foreign debt in four years period. "Yes we have sought their support and received an encouraging response," the finance minister said.

Ms Nishimizu said that the donors had received the request for new funding line for Pakistan which would be considered systematically. "We will look into it though it takes time to finalize the process by the bank," she remarked.

Responding to a question, the finance minister denied that the PDF participants had raised questions about the revival of democracy or cutting down the defence expenditure.

The vice president of the World Bank said that it was Pakistan which had to decide about its economic and political problems. "The theme of the PDF meeting was the economic development of Pakistan which does not have anything to do with political issues," she said.

She said that donors agreed with the government of Pakistan that issues concerning good governance, transparency, corruption and re-building of institutions needed to be seriously looked into and that the donors believed that right policies were being implemented to achieve desired results in this behalf.

Sale of Lasbella Textile Mills assets

A pre-bid conference to respond and to facilitate a better understanding of the bidding process and respond to the queries of the prospective bidders regarding the sale of Lasbella Textile Mills machinery held, Karachi on Monday.

More than 7 parties attended the conference. PC officials elaborated certain points raised by the participants.

The textile processing machinery of Lasbella Textile Mills has been offered for sale on 'as is where is basis' privatization commission has formally invited bids from the prospective bidders by March 14 ,2001.

It is a project of Iran Pakistan Industries limited situated at Uthal Balochistan, 135 kilometres from Karachi on RCD highway. The sale is being conducted through a competitive bidding process.

The processing section is a part of a fully integrated unit of 50,000 spindles, 100 looms with complete dyeing and finishing facilities of around 80,000 meter per day, production capacity of variable width ranging from 36 to 96 inches.

Sugar industry policy soon

Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood has said the government is formulating a long-term term policy for sugar industry in order to end a row between growers and millers and bring the industry out of crisis.

He said a meeting would be held in Badin on Sunday between growers, millers and himself, where a long-term policy would be discussed. "We intend to make a rational policy for at least five years so that the tussle between farmers and growers could come to an end," he added.

Artefacts in Afghanistan

President Rafiq Tarar and the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday told visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickaramanayaka that Pakistan made every effort in urging Afghan government to review its decision about the destruction of Buddha's statues.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister stressed the importance of preserving the remaining Buddhist artefacts in Afghanistan.

Body formed

The government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to re-examine a draft fertilizer policy to make it more responsive to the needs of foreign investors and finalize arrangements for the dedication of the Mari Gas Field to the industry.

The committee has also been asked to sort out the issue of supply of subsidized gas to the fertilizer units and prepare two separate packages for the existing and new plants.

Oil, gas co-operation

Ambassador of Kuwait Mansour Abdullah Ali Al-Awadhi called on Petroleum Minister Usman Aminuddin on Tuesday and discussed Pak-Kuwait co-operation in the oil and gas sector.

The Petroleum Minister briefed him about the ongoing and future developmental activities in the upstream and downstream oil & gas sectors of Pakistan.

He said, the present Government was according high priority to the speedy promotion of this vital field of economy with a view to cut down heavy import oil bill.

Concessional terms

The Debt Reduction and Management Committee proposed to the government to seek exceptional funding of eight to 10 billion dollar on highly concessional terms from the IMF and the World Bank to help return its huge 35 billion dollar loans.

The report, which was released on Thursday by the government, said Pakistan's public debt had reached alarming proportions. The downward rigidity of budgetary expenditures and lack of buoyancy in revenues have generated persistently large fiscal deficits over the last two decades.