May 07 -
US likely to lift curbs on Pakistan
Pakistan has been assured that the Bush Administration will
soon look into the issue of lifting international sanctions against it. "I
was assured by US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'neil that he would take up the
issue of lifting sanctions against Pakistan with Secretary of State Colin
Powell," claimed Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday, adding
"they have promised to review sanctions against Pakistan."
Speaking at a news conference after a week-long visit to the
US where he had also met senior officials of the World Bank, IMF and IFC, he
said he had held wide-ranging discussions with the US authorities. But the key
meeting, he stated, was with the Secretary of Treasury at which they discussed
increasing bilateral co-operation with special reference to removing sanctions
"We informed the US officials that sanctions are
counter-productive and increasing poverty in Pakistan and due to these sanctions
we cannot get investment. These sanctions deter normal commercial
activity". Mr Aziz said he had not discussed political issues relating to
the lifting of sanctions. "Perhaps there are other forums where political
conditions could be discussed," he said, adding that he had confined
himself to informing the US authorities that sanctions were harming the common
man and increasing poverty.
The minister had met Senator Brownback and other important
people and received an encouraging response to get the sanctions removed against
Pakistan. He had also discussed with USAID authorities a concessional lending
for Pakistan. Mr Aziz said the US government had also been urged to help
Pakistan in getting support from International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
About his meetings with the World Bank and IMF officials, the
minister said that Bretton Wood institutions were extending all possible
financial support to Pakistan. Giving details, he said the country was likely to
get the third tranche of $130 million, out of $596 million Standby Arrangement
(SBA) within this month.
Banks to get 3.4% return in May
The State Bank would pay banks and non-bank financial
institutions 3.4 per cent return in May on the 20 per cent special cash reserves
on their fresh currency deposits.
From April 2, the State Bank freed up foreign currency
deposits of banks placed with it and allowed them to use the same freely in
local or international markets. But in doing so it asked them to maintain 25 per
cent of their total foreign currency deposits as cash reserves in foreign
currency: the central bank promised to pay the banks a monthly return on 20 per
cent of this amount being special reserves.
For the month of April, the State Bank had fixed the return
at 4.08 per cent and had also announced the formula for working out the return
every month. SBP had told banks that the return would be equal to one-month
LIBOR (London inter-bank offered rate) at the last working day of the preceding
month minus one per cent service charge. Since one-month LIBOR closed at 4.4 per
cent on April 30 the State Bank has decided to pay 3.4 per cent return on
special reserves in May.
Myanmar visit to cement ties: Musharraf
The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, ended a three-day
official visit to Myanmar on Thursday, saying it had brought both sides closer
and would lead to improve co-operation.
Gen Musharraf told a news conference before leaving for
Vietnam that the fact that both Myanmar and Pakistan were ruled by the military
helped the two countries understand each other better. "It was a most
fruitful, profitable and mutually beneficial visit," Gen Musharraf said at
Yangon's international airport.
"It's our desire to get closer to Myanmar and I'm sure a
similar desire was demonstrated by the (Myanmar) government." Gen Musharraf
expressed the confidence that both Pakistan and Myanmar had great potential for
strengthening economic and trade relations, which would attain a boost in the
India-Pakistan officials to meet in Colombo
The Saarc Secretary-General, Nihal Rodrigo, said on Thursday
that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will certainly meet on the
sidelines of a two-day meeting of the association's standing committee at
Colombo, commencing from June 8 next.
Speaking at a luncheon meeting at the Foreign Correspondents'
Club, he said that the preparatory meeting of the senior officials would be held
on June 6 and 7."Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will certainly
meet on the sidelines of the Saarc standing committee meeting," he
BCCI liquidators and Dr Gaith Pharaon, a Saudi businessman,
have reportedly reached to, an out-of-court settlement, allowing the Saudi
businessmen to keep Attock Oil Company after the payment of approximately $75
million, its learnt from lawyers dealing with the case in Pakistan. Attock Oil
Company is the parent holding company which has controlling shares in Attock
Refinery Limited (AOL) and Pakistan Oil Fields (POL) with 65 per cent shares.
Gas pricing mechanism
The World Bank has asked Pakistan to change pricing mechanism
for natural gas production, transmission and distribution which entails
different "confidential" gas tariffs for different parts of the
country and consumers. The aide memoire "accelerating the development of
domestic gas reserves" of the bank submitted on April 20, 2001, also asked
the government to get out of the allocation and dedication of gas reserves
Exporters stop $ buying from kerb
A number of exporters have stopped buying foreign exchange
from the open market to sell the same in inter-bank market as export proceeds
after April 14 the deadline set for selling of overdue export bills. This is one
of the factors that has kept the rupee stable in the second half of this month.