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June 04 - 10, 2001

ADB to give $104 million drought assistance

The Asian Development Bank will provide $104 million emergency assistance for improving drought conditions in Pakistan. The ADB assistance will be processed over the next couple of months after the bank's board meeting in early August this year.

According to ADB's local office, at the request of the government of Pakistan, the four-member fact-finding mission of the bank visited Pakistan from May 21 to 31. The purpose of the mission was to gather necessary information on the economic losses caused by the drought and its impact on poverty, food security and community access to services.

As part of initial field work, the mission visited selected drought-stricken areas in Sindh and Balochistan and held detailed discussions with the two provincial governments. Subsequently, the mission held meetings with the federal government, representatives of all the provincial governments in Islamabad as well as other donors considering similar assistance.

Wrap-up meetings of the mission chaired by Secretary General Finance Moeen Afzal and attended by provincial governments representatives, were held in Islamabad on May 30 and 31. Details of the size of assistance package, modality for channelling of funds and implementation arrangements at the district levels were reviewed in detail. Based on the work of the mission and discussions with the provincial governments, the mission indicated $104 million assistance from loan savings of ongoing operations.

Gwadar port: Chinese interest vital

Washington newspaper on Thursday insinuates that the Chinese interest in developing the port of Gwadar is meant to give Beijing a potential staging ground to exert influence along the shipping lanes of the Gulf.

The Washington Times states that while both Pakistan and China have denied Pakistani press reports that a secret understanding has been reached to allow Chinese naval vessels to dock at Gwadar, but "both sides have talked openly of increasing economic strategic ties and the heavy Chinese involvement in the US$1 billion (port) deal is a prime example".

The paper quotes an Asian specialist as saying that "Beijing has a history of "piggy-backing military cooperation onto commercial ventures". The commercial deal, agreed during Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji's recent visit to Pakistan, "can easily set the stage for military cooperation in the future," the expert, Richard Fisher of the Jamestown Foundation, said.

$250 million drought package expected

The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the World Food Programme will jointly provide $250 million to Pakistan to help lessen the serious effects of drought.

Sources in the multilateral agencies said on Wednesday that the loss caused due to drought has been estimated to be of $950 million for which initially the international donors will roughly offer $250 million shortly.

Both the banks and WFP have said there was a serious need for finalising a special drought package with the "fiscal intervention" of the government. One of the ADB missions currently visiting Pakistan has conveyed to the government that it was ready to make available considerable funds in July next along with World Bank and the WFP to deal with the drought conditions.

This joint financial support, the sources said, will be highly concessional one, by and large on the pattern of International Development Agency (IDA) loans.

Chinese firm to give loan for lab

A Chinese company will extend Rs116.5 million interest-free loan for the construction and expansion of Quarantine Laboratory of the Department of Plant Protection at Karachi.

An agreement to this effect was signed on Tuesday between the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock and China Guangdong International Co-operation Companies, the Chinese company. According to an official statement, the project is to be started soon and completed in fifteen months. The laboratory will test the plants and crops for agriculture-related diseases before being exported.

Oil, gas regulatory authorities to be set up

The government will set up oil and gas regulatory authorities shortly in the country aimed at providing possible facilities to people on priority.

Secretary Abdullah Yousaf said this on Tuesday while briefing Federal Ad-hoc Public Accounts Committee (PAC) regarding reforms being introduced in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.

Regarding Pakistan State Oil, Secretary who was representing the Petroleum Ministry as Principal Accounting Officer, said the privatization process of this organization is under consideration and financial adviser has been already appointed to look into the matter.

WAPDA's profit

The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has released Rs500 million of net hydel profit to NWFP breaking the over four-and-a-half month unannounced moratorium on payments to the province, official sources told Dawn on Wednesday.

Arif Habib Securities

The stock brokerage firm, Arif Habib Securities Limited said on Thursday that it had received a total sum of Rs434.64 million in subscription to its public offer of Rs100 million (1.250 million shares of Rs10 each issued at a premium of Rs70).