July 09 -
Jordan government mulls petrol price hike
Jordan's government is considering a hike in the
price of some petrol products in order to fund the desert kingdom's
municipalities, Energy Minister Mohammad Batayneh said Sunday.
"The government is actually studying an
increase in prices for certain petrol derivatives," he told AFP,
without naming which ones.
He cautioned any price hike would be "light,
in order to take into consideration the living conditions of Jordaians
with limited incomes." He cited the need for a price hike due to
inflation in oil prices worldwide. The Jordanian daily Al-Rai reported
that the additional revenue would be allocated to Jordan's
municipalities, which face a budget deficit of 70 million dinars (100
million dollars).Batayneh did not reveal any date for the measure.
The minister added that fuel prices remain lower in Jordan than
"in neighbouring countries, or even in oil producing
countries." Jordan imports all its oil from Iraq, amounting to
some five million tonnes annually. Half of the figure is purchased at
a bargain price, while the rest is delivered free of charge.
Jordan faces a budget deficit of 253 million
dollars for 2001.
The government had announced plans to raise fuel
prices at the end of 2000 before suspending the move
Meanwhile, the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) on Sunday
announced a loan of 20 million dollars for Jordan to carry out
monetary and banking reforms.
AMF director general Jassem al-Mannai and Jordan's
central bank governor Umayya Tukan signed the loan agreement at the
fund's headquarters in Abu Dhabi, it said in a statement.
The terms were not disclosed, but the Arab League
generally offers soft loans to help member states with balance of
payments problems and to stabilise exchange rates.
Jordan has now received a total of 178 million
dollars in AMF loans since the fund was set up in 1977.
OPEC cools on output hike as prices slide
OPEC energy chiefs converging on Vienna this week
are poised to reject calls for an output increase to make up a
shortfall left by Iraq, in light of the recent slide in crude prices.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) called Tuesday's extraordinary meeting at the last powwow of
the 11-member cartel in early June, when it refused to hike output —
but said it would act if Baghdad's export freeze destabilised the
Since then Iraq has maintained its export
suspension to protest US-British efforts to impose a new sanctions
regime, but markets have barely flinched at the missing volumes of
more than two million barrels of crude a day.
Prices have actually fallen heavily since.
The basket price OPEC uses to help guide its policy
has dropped below the oil-exporting club's target of 25 dollars a
barrel in recent days, undermined by swelling stocks and signs that
demand is suffering from the global economic downturn.
Crude prices in both London and New York have
slumped to levels not seen in months, close to 25 dollars a barrel in
With the prospect of an end to the Iraqi export
halt lurking in the wings if efforts to impose new so-called smart
sanctions fail and the existing oil-for-food is extended instead, OPEC
seems almost certain to turn a deaf ear to calls for it to pump more
The fact that the UN Security Council's deadline
for agreement on any changes to sanctions against Iraq falls on
Tuesday — hours after OPEC ministers are expected to begin talks —
will only serve to harden OPEC's resolve to maintain its wait-and-see
OPEC officials have already all but ruled out an
increase in production quotas on Tuesday.
"It seems that in this meeting OPEC will not
take any decision to increase production," OPEC secretary general
Ali Rodriguez said.
"There is not at this moment a necessity for
more oil, but perhaps in the third and fourth quarter, mainly in the
fourth quarter the demand is higher," he told AFP in an interview
ahead of Tuesday's meeting.
Egypt issues $1.5 billion of eurobonds
Egypt has issued 1.5 billion dollars worth of
dollar-denominated eurobonds after parliament passed a law earlier
this month allowing the issue to go ahead, Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper
The government on Friday issued 500 million dollars
worth of bonds with a five year maturity and a billion dollars worth
of bonds with a 10 year maturity, the paper reported.
The interest rate for the five-year eurobonds was
set at 7.6 per cent while the rate for the 10-year bonds was set at
8.7 per cent, the paper said.
Egyptian bourse slumps in mixed Arab week
The Egyptian bourse slumped 2.8 per cent in a mixed
week for Arab stock markets, Bakheet Financial Advisors (BFA) reported
At the other end of the scale, Jordan's ASE index
gained 2.3 per cent to close on 140.86 points. And Oman's troubled MSM
index recovered ground for a second straight week, gaining 1.2 per
cent to close on 165.85 points.
In Cairo, the Hermes Financial Index declined to
5,969.53 points, continuing a downward trend since January due to a
slowdown in privatisation and a shortage of dollars in the economy.
The Egyptian bourse is the Arab world's worst
performer of the year so far, having plunged 23.2 per cent.
Another loser on the week was the Tunindex in
Tunisia, which weakened 1.7 per cent to 1,318.40 points.
The Emirati NBAD index lost 1.4 per cent to close
on 2,456.34 points, while the BLOM index in Lebanon slipped 0.6 per
cent to 505.73 points.
Oman predicts proven oil reserves will nearly
Oman can increase its proven oil reserves by four
billion barrels to a total of nine billion barrels and still be
producing crude in 50 years from now, the sultanate's oil and gas
minister said Monday.
"Using today's technology, we are confident
that we can increase this by another four billion barrels,"
Mohammed bin Hamad al-Romhi said on the website of the bimonthly Oman
Until now, Oman's proven reserves of just over five
billion barrels were expected to run dry around 2017.
"My message is, 50 years from today we will
still be producing oil", revealed Romhi, who briefed Sultan
Qaboos on the development in June.
From a total oil resource base of 50 billion
barrels, Oman has produced 6.1 billion barrels or 12 per cent, to
Production of a further nine billion barrels would
take total recovery to just over 30 per cent, said the minister whose
country is an independent producer of around 900,000 barrels of crude
Jordanians still awaiting compensation
A decade after the catastrophic collapse of the
Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), dozens of Jordanian
depositors are still trying to recover more than 100 million dollars
lost in the crash.
"July 5, 2001 is the 10th anniversary of the
closure of the BCCI. Ten years have passed and the depositors have
received only crumbs," a statement by the Depositors Protection
Association said Wednesday.
It urged the legal authorities in Luxembourg,
headquarters of the collapsed BCCI, to "speed up" action to
compensate Jordanian nationals who had deposited their money in BCCI
outside the kingdom.
SABIC seeking investment opportunities
Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)
is seeking investment opportunities and looking to expand its scope of
manufacturing beyond the Kingdom.
"We are studying various possibilities in this
regard but we have not arrived at any conclusion as yet," said
Nasir Sayyari, president basic chemicals group of SABIC, when asked to
comment on reports that SABIC is discussing a proposal with the
Iranian National Petrochemical Company to invest in a polymer project
Iran alerts navy to face US attack
Iran is said to be concerned at the possibility of
a punitive United States attack and has asked its naval units to be on
Reporting this in a write-up in its Sunday issue,
The Washington Times quoting intelligence sources says the Iranian
fears of a US strike flow from the indictments recently handed down
against 13 people for involvement in the bombing of a US military
installation in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996, in which 19 Americans
Israeli jets pound Syrian positions
Israeli warplanes hit a Syrian anti-aircraft
position in eastern Lebanon on Sunday. One Lebanese and two Syrian
soldiers were reported wounded in Sunday's air raid, Lebanese military
Dubai Duty Free tops
Dubai Duty Free (DDF) has topped an independent
poll of more than 46,000 travelers in 24 airports on four continents
for having the best shopping facilities, a newspaper reported
DDF headed all 11 categories in the survey carried
out by European Data and Research Ltd. on the purchasing habits of
international travelers, Khaleej Times said.
Jordan National Bank
The Jordan National Bank has opened a new financial
institution in Lebanon known as the Ahli International Bank following
a merger with the Lebanon-Kuwait Bank, a statement said on Thursday.
Ahli International Bank has assets of 220 million
dollars and capital of 22 million dollars, with the Jordan National
Bank holding 85.5 per cent, the statement said.
It will operate in several Lebanese cities after
having received at the end of May the official go-ahead from the
Central Bank of Lebanon.
Palestinians brace for Israeli assassinations
A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday
that an Israeli cabinet decision to assassinate Palestinian activists
proved it was not committed to a US-brokered ceasefire designed to end
nine months of clashes.
Israel's security cabinet on Wednesday approved a
strategy of attacking Palestinian activists despite US opposition and
the Palestinian Authority condemnation of the assassination campaign.
Iran says its missing diplomats in Israel
Iran said on Tuesday it had proof that Israel was
holding four Iranian diplomats abducted during its 1982 invasion of
The diplomats are believed to have been seized by
pro-Israeli Christian militiamen in Beirut in 1982 when Israeli forces
surrounded the capital.
Israel and Christian militias have claimed the four
Iraq hails victory over 'smart' sanctions
Iraq on Tuesday claimed a "victory" over
US and British efforts to revise the 11-year-old sanctions regime,
after the UN Security Council indefinitely put off a vote on proposed
"The American plot has collapsed. This
collapse is a victory for the will of our Arab people," Iraq's
minister of state for foreign affairs, Naji Sabri Al-Hadithi, told the
Qatari satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera.
"It's also a victory for the will of the
countries which voiced their rejection of this deceitful project, such
as Jordan, Syria and Egypt," the official said.
New Gulf ferry service heads for Iraq
A new passenger ferry service linking the Gulf Arab
states and India set sail from Bahrain on Saturday for the Iraqi port
of Um Qasr, a Bahrain-based shipping line said.
Ibrahim Rajab, a spokesman for Tylos Ferry, told
AFP that the vessel Al-Salam Taba I left Bahrain's Mina Salman port
with more than 420 passengers on board. It was due to arrive in Iraq
Al-Salam, which earlier June launched the first
passenger sea link between the Gulf and India in almost 30 years,
already picked up almost 40 travellers to Iraq from Doha on Friday.
It will operate "like a taxi service",
depending on demand from countries in the Gulf, explained Rajab.
Commercial air links
Royal Jordanian, the national airline, said
Saturday it had resumed its flights to Qatar following the end to a
diplomatic row over a Jordanian member of the Palestinian group Hamas
who had been exiled in Qatar.
A statement said the company had "resumed its
regular flights to and from Doha from Friday with a flight that left
Amman for Bangkok via Doha."
For its part, Qatar Airways will resume Saturday
its regular flights between Doha and Amman, a company source said in
Islamic bank to boost capital to $200 mln
A Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank plans to
boost its paid up capital to 200 million dollars by the end of 2001
from the current level of 30 million dollars, a newspaper reported
Investors Bank chairman Sami al-Bader al-Jenaai,
quoted in Gulf Daily News, said a likely merger with another financial
institution in the region would aim to raise around 70 million
The remaining 100 million dollars would be injected
by existing and new shareholders, including conventional institutions,
Jenaai told reporters after the bank held an annual general meeting in
Manama on Thursday.