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Apr 23 - 29, 2001

Saudis to invest in Balochistan

The Saudi businessmen have shown keen interest in making significant investment in fruit processing plants and export of fruits from Balochistan to Middle East.

This was disclosed by federal minister for finance Shaukat Aziz, while talking to the Balochistan Governor Justice (retd) Amirul Mulk Mengal, in Quetta on Thursday.

The federal minister advised the provincial government to allot a piece of land to Saudi businessmen for establishing the needed fruit processing plant for boosting fruit exports to Gulf, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Middle East.

He said banks were ready to provide loan for setting up date processing plants in Mekran. He said the private sector should come forward and make investment in date processing.

He said the potentials in fruits would provide an ample opportunity to export fruits from Balochistan to outside world.

In regard to Saindak project, Aziz said the Chinese had shown keen interest and demanded a transparency in bidding process, when it would be opened in near future. He said he was personally interested in visiting Chagai and particularly Saindak, inspecting copper mining area.

The federal minister confirmed that the copper mining would be one of the biggest in the whole world changing the fate of Balochistan.

The federal minister was obviously referring to recent international studies carried out in Saindak and its adjoining areas confirming the copper deposits of over one billion tons and pure gold deposits. For this reason alone, the bidding for Saindak project is tough and the Chinese who built the entire copper processing township are demanding transparency in bidding by the officials.

Licensed banks to deal in forex, TCs

The State Bank of Pakistan has moved a step ahead in further liberalizing the foreign exchange dealings on Wednesday by allowing all the branches of a licensed bank to deal in foreign exchange and travellers cheque.

Hitherto, only the authorized branches of licensed banks were allowed to deal in foreign exchange transaction. A circular of the State Bank issued on Wednesday informed all the authorized dealers in foreign exchange that all branches are allowed to purchase, encash from public, foreign currency notes, coin and foreign currency traveller cheques.

All these branches dealing in foreign exchange will however issue proper receipts against all foreign exchange transactions following the usual procedure.

WB curtails $100 mn soft loan

The World Bank has curtailed $100 million soft loan to Pakistan's $785 million National Drainage Programme (NDP) due to slow-paced institutional reforms and some unapproved schemes, official sources told.

A bank mission led by Sakwa Bunyasi that spent around three weeks in Pakistan for the mid-term review (MTR) of the project has conveyed its decision to the relevant authorities. The mission has submitted its initial MTR report to the federal government, these sources said.

The bank has refused to accept Punjab's Rs3 billion scheme for canal lining besides a couple of small dams both in Punjab and NWFP costing over a billion rupees. It also refused to involve Azad Kashmir in the drainage programme because the three issues were not directly covered by the World Bank approved plan of action.

The bank has submitted two different scenarios for slashing its $285million soft-term financing. "$100million is the minimum cut conveyed by the Bank but this cut can go much higher", said these sources.

Rupee falls further

The US dollar once again crossed the mark of Rs61 in inter-bank market on Tuesday as the local currency shed 50 paisa overnight. In the open market, the dollar touched Rs64, but finally closed at Rs63.75/ Rs63.85 for spot buying and selling.

ADBP recovers Rs21.3 billion

The Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) has recovered Rs 21.3 billion loans in the last nine months of the current financial year against a target of Rs 37.5 billion set by the State Bank of Pakistan.

CCOP okays sale of 10% NBP shares

The Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) on Tuesday approved the disinvestment of 10 per cent shares of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). The meeting which was chaired by the Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz decided that Overseas Pakistanis would be offered incentives to take part in the privatization of 10 per cent shares of the NBP. The objective of disinvesting 10 per cent shares of the NBP, the meeting was told, was to induct corporate culture, mobilize savings and broaden ownership.

SBP sells bonds

The State Bank on Tuesday raised Rs11.24billion long term funds through sale of Pakistan Investment against the pre-auction target of Rs12.5billion. In the last auction held on February 13 SBP had raised Rs15.5bn by selling these bonds-almost double the target of Rs8billion.

Cement prices hiked

Cement makers in Sindh have decided to increase the prices of their products by Rs10 per 50kg bag. Dealers and distributors told that all the cement manufacturers in the private sector have suspended their dispatches on Tuesday and verbally informed them about the imminent price hike.

New crop credit rates notified

It took the State Bank about one and a half month to notify to banks the decision of Agricultural Credit Consultative Committee to enhance per acre credit limit for major and minor crops.

SBP on Tuesday (April 17) issued a letter to Agricultural Development Bank, Federal Bank for Co-operatives and five major commercial banks namely HBL, UBL, NBP, ABL and MCB informing them of the ACAC decision taken on March 2.

ADBP recovers Rs21.3 billion

The Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) has recovered Rs 21.3 billion loans in the last nine months of the current financial year against a target of Rs 37.5 billion set by the State Bank of Pakistan.