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July 09 - 15, 2001

Leasing cos to focus on auto sector, SMEs

After the restoration of first year allowance announced in the budget 2001-2002 leasing companies are confident of doing more business particularly in auto leasing and small and medium size industries.

Chairman of Leasing Association of Pakistan (LAP) Rashid Ahmed said at a press conference on Thursday that restoration of first year allowance would help leasing companies regain grounds in the industrial leasing. "This has saved the leasing companies from a collapse," said vice-chairman Humayun Murad.

Under initial depreciation allowance or first year allowance the government allows accelerated tax depreciation on newly-acquired plant and machinery to encourage industrial growth and capital formation. Rashid Ahmed and Humayun Murad said that the restoration of this facility would encourage leasing companies to expand the client base.

Replying a question Rashid Ahmed said most leasing companies had enhanced their paid-up capital to Rs200 million as required by the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan. He said LAP would seek extension in the deadline for boosting paid-up capital. The deadline expired on June 30. He said half of the companies that were yet to raise paid-up capital to the required level had sought SECP permission to do this by issuing right shares.

Rashid informed newsmen that LAP had received a request from Al-Meezan Investment Bank for starting leasing business, adding that the request was being processed.

He welcomed the decision announced in the budget to increase the cost of vehicles from Rs 600,000 to Rs 750,000 for working out depreciation allowance. He said this would give further boost to car leasing, adding that sales of car through leasing companies had already risen from 20-25 per cent to 40 per cent.

EoIs invited for govt shares in MCB

The Privatization Commission on Thursday invited expressions of interest (EoIs) to divest 16.6 per cent (approximately 40 million) remaining equity stake of the government in the Muslim Commercial Bank.

The procedure will be held through a book building process or block sale/tender offer through open bidding to domestic and international investors and the general public.

MCB is the largest private commercial bank in Pakistan with 1,209 domestic and seven foreign branches (including one in EPZ). MCB has been recently awarded the best domestic bank for 2000 by Euromoney, a leading international publication.

The Privatization Commission asked interested investors to submit their expressions of interest in minimum sized lots of 500,000 shares by 3 p.m on July 30, 2001.

10 EoIs received for PTCL sell-off

The Privatization Commission has received expressions of interest (EoIs) from 10 companies for the privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

According to an official handout the current effort to privatize the PTCL began in 1998 with the appointment of a consortium, led by Goldman Sachs International, as the financial advisor (FA), that has recently been supplemented by JP Morgan.

The Privatization Commission had invited EoIs from interested parties for PTCL privatization and advertisements to this effect were published in the national and international press on April 23, 2001 and onwards. The last date for the submission of EoIs was June 30, 2001.

PS retrenches workers

Pakistan Steel (PS) has reduced the strength of its employees from 20,533 to 14,393 by 4th (Wednesday) under a 'manpower restructuring plan'.

ADB-funded projects

Sindh Minister for Finance, Planning and Development, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that timely completion of ongoing projects under $22.57 million investment by Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Sindh would help raise standard of living.

Gas pipeline to be on agenda

The proposed Iran-Indian gas pipeline passing through Pakistan will be on the agenda of the July 14 Pakistan-India summit. This was stated by Oil and Natural Resources Minister Usman Aminuddin while talking to Washington-based Pakistani correspondents on Tuesday.

Increase in drug prices postponed

The government has decided to postpone the increase in drug prices at least for two months to gauge the full impact of the exercise.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) had, in principle, agreed to allow increase in drug prices to lure pharmaceutical companies to make more investments in the industry.

New CBR chief (Policy

The federal government on Tuesday appointed Riaz Ahmad Malik chairman of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR). He has also been given charge of additional secretary (in charge) revenue division.

Deep-sea fishing policy unveiled

The government on Monday announced a deep-sea fishing policy that promises heavier penalties for violating rules and makes it mandatory for all vessels operating in the exclusive economic zone to install the global positioning satellite.

PSO awards contracts for LSFO

Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has awarded contracts to buy up to 150,000 tons of low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) for July-September delivery, a PSO official said on Monday.

Two 25,000-ton cargoes have been awarded to European trader Glencore and Middle East traders Bakri Trading and Fal Oil, he said.

One cargo each in July and August was awarded to Fal Oil at a premium of $44.78 per ton to the Pakistan formula.

Castro invites Musharraf

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Saturday accepted an invitation from President Fidel Castro to visit Cuba, the foreign ministry said in a statement.