July 02 -
Oil subsidies to go in three years: Usman
The commendable economic reforms introduced by the
President, Gen Pervez Musharraf have created ideal conditions for
foreign investments in Pakistan, said Usman Aminuddin, the Federal
Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources.
Speaking at the International Petroleum Investment
Conference in Calgary, Canada, the minister said as a result of
Islamabad's wide-ranging economic reform programmes, several positive
indicators are already evident. These include: strong rebound in
agriculture, broad-based growth in large scale manufacturing, lowest
inflation in two decades, tax collection growth by 15 per cent as
against an average growth of 4.8 per cent during 1996-1999,
containment of money supply growth at targeted level, significant
increase in exports and workers' remittances, and improvement in trade
and current account balances.
He told the conference that Pakistan government is
committed to pursuing its agenda of developing a free market economy.
"We have already removed many bottlenecks restricting inflow of
foreign investment in Pakistan and others are being addressed through
comprehensive business-related reform resources," he said.
Usman Aminuddin also explained government's future
policies and said the new plans for the upstream petroleum sector are
aimed at accelerating exploration and production of oil and gas
activities through consolidation, continuation and improvement of
policy terms, and operational flexibility.
The minister added: "In line with these
objectives, the government has prescribed production sharing contracts
in offshore with incentives based on water depths." For onshore
exploration, he said, income tax rate has been reduced to 40 per cent
from earlier 50 to 60 per cent. Furthermore, the onshore zones have
been redefined particularly in difficult areas where exploration
companies were not showing interest.
Onshore policy aimed at opening up gas market:
Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural
Resources, Usman Aminuddin has stated that thrust of the recently
announced onshore policy has been opening up of gas markets in
According to a message received on Monday the
minister was talking to a delegation of British Gas Crescent Petroleum
and ABN Amro, which called on him in London to brief him about their
planned activities in Pakistan.
He said that the augmentation and upgradation of
gas transmission infrastructure, which was the main constraint in
marketing the gas, had received special attention of the government.
He said that the producers were given the option to
develop infrastructure for which transportation tariff would be
payable over and above policy gas price. British Gas delegation
applauded the efforts which the government was making to deregulate
the markets and revitalize investment in Oil and Gas Sector.
Banks can finance wheat purchase
The State Bank has withdrawn restriction on banks
to finance procurement of wheat by the private sector. It has also
substantially reduced the minimum margin requirement in respect of
advances extended by commercial banks for wheat.
"Accordingly the banks can now freely finance
the procurement of wheat by flour mills from any source in Pakistan
and without any time restriction on the basis of the annual
manufacturing capacity of each flour mill at a nominal rate of 10 per
cent," says a SBP press release.
"Similarly, private traders and growers have
also been allowed to obtain bank finances for the purchase of wheat at
a simple margin of 15 per cent. All finances provided by banks for
procurement of wheat shall be, inter alia, covered against the pledge
of wheat stocks."
"In view of bumper wheat crops for the last
two years, these timely measures will significantly facilitate the
optimum disposal of crops by the growers and stabilization of wheat
Shaukat briefs donors on budget
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday said the
new budget would further the process of reforms in the country and
provide adequate incentives for business to undertake new investment
projects. This, he stated in a detailed briefing session held for the
representatives of the donor countries to Pakistan.
Local govt law next week
Local Government Ordinance 2001 is likely to be
promulgated by the respective governors of the provincial governments
during the first week of July, well-placed sources in National
Reconstruction Bureau informed.
Earlier in the day, General Tanvir Naqvi, Chairman
NRB informed the participants of a training workshop in NRB that the
Local Government Ordinance, which will provide the legal framework for
implementation of Local Government Plan 2000, is about to be finalised
within days. Shortly thereafter, it will be promulgated by the
provinces, he was quoted as saying by the official spokesperson of NRB.
$15m accord signed
Pakistan on Tuesday signed a US$15 million
exploration investment contract with a leading Canadian company,
disclosed visiting federal minister for petroleum and natural
resources Usman Aminuddin.
14 major deals by December: Privatization
The Privatization Commission has finalized 14 mega
transactions to be completed by December this year. "These 14
major privatization deals will be completed within six months as we
are receiving encouraging response both from local and foreign
buyers," said Secretary Privatization Commission, Zafar Ali Khan.
He said the government has decided "not"
to change the last date for receiving Expressions of Interest (EoIs)
for Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), which is June
30, with a view to completing its privatization by December this year.
"Some foreign buyers are ready to buy 16 to 26 per cent strategic
shares of the PTCL to take over the management control of the
company," he said.