June 04 -
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
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
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.
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).