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Apr 16 - 22, 2001

Remittances tumble by $21m in Feb

Remittances from overseas Pakistanis showed a steep fall of over $21 million (over 22 per cent) during February over January but still it maintained an overall edge of about 21 per cent in the eight months flow during this fiscal as compared to receipt of foreign exchange in same period of last fiscal.

Bankers report remittances dropped down to $74.35 million in February this year from $95.38 million in January. The January remittances included more than $20 million compensation given by the Kuwaiti government to Pakistanis affected by Gulf war. In January total flow of remittances was $24.95 million which came down to $3.70 million in February.

Overall in eight months of July 00 to February 01, the total amount of remittances reported by the banks is $741.86 million as against $606.22 million received in same period of 99-00, a rise of over $135 million or about 21 per cent.

Bankers speak of over $40 million jump in remittances from the Pakistanis in UAE who remitted about $148 million in the current fiscal year as against $107.30 million in same period of last fiscal.

Another encouraging sign is almost a 70 per cent jump in the remittances from the USA from where the banks received in eight months of this fiscal year $85.96 million as against $49.96 million remitted in same period of 99-00. USA is a country where a large number of Pakistanis are settled and well integrated in that society. "A sum of $36 million increase in the remittances from USA looks small but indicates the setting of a trend that should gather momentum in the coming months", a senior banker said.

A small increase of over $8 million has also been witnessed in remittances from UK from where Pakistanis dispatched $56.56 million in the current fiscal year as against $48.36 million in last fiscal.

Liquid forex reserves up

Pakistan's liquid foreign exchange reserves rose to $2.146 billion on April 7 from $2.106 billion on April 2, according to a press release issued by the State Bank.

The reserves included $1.168 billion held by the State Bank and $977 million by commercial banks.

On April 2 the reserves held by SBP stood at $1.060 billion and the reserves held by banks totalled $1.046 billion.

Senior banker attributed the buildup in the reserves held by SBP to the fact that from this month banks had started placing 25 per cent of cash reserves in foreign currency on their fresh foreign currency deposits.

24 Modarabas pay dividend (Box)

"A whole lot of two dozen modarabas, which measure to two-thirds of the total 36 Modarabas paid dividends to their certificate holders for the year ended June 30, 2000, yet only two are currently priced at above their par value at the stock market". This was the lament of the chairman Modaraba Association of Pakistan (MAP), Sohail Osman Ali, at a prize distribution ceremony on Wednesday. He blamed all of it to the poor public perception about the modaraba sector.

Awards were given out to five top modarabas, which had distributed dividends in excess of 20 per cent. First Grindlays Modaraba and Imroze Modaraba shared the first prize for paying out dividends at 30 per cent; First Ibrahim Modaraba followed with 25 per cent payout while the First Habib Modaraba with 22.5 per cent dividend and First Habib Bank Modaraba with a payout of 21.5 per cent were adjudged the fourth and fifth best.

SBP suspends dollar-buying

The State Bank has suspended dollar buying from open market after March 31 thus keeping the rupee from falling to new lows. Between July 2000 and March 2001 the central bank purchased more than $1.3 billion from kerb and bankers close to SBP say it may end up buying $1.5-$1.6 billion at the end of this fiscal year in June.

The rupee closed at 63.00/63.15 to a US dollar in open market on Thursday showing a loss of 25 paisa overnight but up substantially from 64.15/64.20 to a dollar at the end of March.

Rs2.19bn recovered

An amount of Rs2.19 billion was recovered from seven cases of irregular payments, defaults etc, involving various attached departments of the ministry of food & agriculture (MINFAL) , pertaining to 1988-89, 1993-94 and 1996-97. These cases were detected by the Auditor General (AG) of Pakistan.

This was revealed during the three-day meeting of the adhoc Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which commenced in the Parliament House on Thursday, under the chairmanship of H.U. Baig, former federal finance secretary. The Auditor General of Pakistan, Chaudhry Manzoor Husain was also present on the occasion.

SGS seeks $329m in damages

The Swiss company, Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), on Saturday filed a counter-claim against the government of Pakistan, demanding $329 million in damages on account of a premature termination of the pre-shipment inspection (PSI) contract and damage caused to its reputation.

In response to the federal government application, pending before an Islamabad civil court, seeking appointment of arbitrator for the recovery of $187 million from the SGS, the Swiss company denied that any kickback or commission had been paid to Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari for procuring the contract.

PSO deduction irks WAPDA

A unilateral Rs577 million deduction by Pakistan State Oil has left WAPDA unable to meet the country's energy requirement, sources told.

"Your unilateral action of deducting huge amount of Rs577 million has not only affected our business relationship but has also caused serious problems for our thermal generation companies to meet national energy demand at this critical juncture of low water level," the member, power, was quoted as having written to PSO chief Shaukat R. Mirza.