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July 30 - August 05 , 2001

ADBP focuses on tea, palm oil cultivation

Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz was informed on Wednesday that Rs4 billion would be additionally needed to finance ADBP's new initiatives focusing on palm oil cultivation in the coastal belt of Sindh, extracting olive oil and cultivating tea in the northern areas.

These enterprises are to be pursued in close consultation with Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and the provincial governments, the ADBP management told the minister at a marathon session here. On the recovery front, the minister was briefed that despite a bad agricultural year, the bank posted a surge in recovery of its dues to 64.1 per cent in FY 2001 from 61.9 per cent recorded the previous year.

Moreover, the growth in non-performing loans has been significantly arrested. The minister appreciated these efforts and endorsed the idea of introducing special packages for the recovery of stuck-up loans.

Shaukat Aziz said the ADBP had a gross roots setup and should emerge as a major input-provider in the policy formulation to the government. He said that lending schemes and incentives offered to the agriculture sector need to be properly publicized through the electronic media for the larger benefit of the farming community.

Mr Aziz said the bank's talent pool must be properly channelled and persons opposing the change be properly handled. He also emphasized the need for immediate portfolio audit of bank's operations, financial restructuring and IT plans. He assured full support of the government in strengthening the ADBP financially, technically and administratively.

The chairman ADBP, Mr Istaqbal Mehdi assured the minister that all efforts would be made to improve the business and strengthen the bank's role by providing better service to the farming community through introducing discipline in all spheres of bank's activities including timely implementation of credit plan, control over non-performing loans and financial restructuring etc.

21 EoIs received for 26% govt shares

The Privatization Commission has received 21 expressions of interest (EoIs) from world's strategic investors for pre-qualification to participate in the privatization of United Bank Limited (UBL), an official announcement said.

The government plans to sell a minimum stake of 26 per cent of the government share-holding to a quality strategic investor and transfer management control. UBL is one of Pakistan's three leading commercial banks, having a countrywide and international branch network. UBL has a full service licence covering commercial, retail banking, consumer and investment banking activities in Pakistan and most of the other countries where it is present.

China agrees to sign agreement

The Chinese government has formally given its consent to help Pakistan in constructing $250 million phase-I Gwadar project. "We received the intimation on July 24 from the Chinese government, inviting us to sign the agreement", said Communication Minister Javed Ashraf Qazi on Tuesday.

He said that Chinese government has in principle agreed to funding of the project. Some of the funding will be made in shape of grant and some as loan.

The Chinese government has invited Finance and Communication ministers for signing the agreement. Both are likely to visit China in first week of August. Javed said the first-phase of Gwadar will be built within a period of two to three weeks, having all essential facilities. Initially it will have three berths.

PSO chief shot dead

The managing director of the Pakistan State Oil, Shaukat Raza Mirza, and his driver were shot dead by two masked assailants in Clifton locality at about 8.45am on Thursday.

Shaukat Mirza, 62, was on his way to the PSO House in his BMW (ABP-818) from his Kehkashan residence when the attackers, riding a motorcycle, intercepted the car at the Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman Road-Chartered Accountant Avenue intersection and opened fire on him.

Moinuddin passes away

The chief of bomb disposal squad, Moinuddin, died of a heart attack on Thursday. He was 72. Moinuddin, who had retired from active service from Civil Defence 12 years ago, had not retired from his job until he breathed his last.

Saudi Arabia offers $250m aid

Saudi Arabia has agreed to finance various development projects worth $250 million in Pakistan on the fast track basis. A delegation of Saudi Fund for Development headed by Engineer Yousef I. Al-Bassam met Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Tuesday and informed him that his country had agreed to extend $250 million to Pakistan for development projects.

The finance minister urged the delegation to help the Pakistan government in its resolve to improve the economy. Welcoming the Fund's continued support, the minister underlined the need for fast disbursement of funds for economic development and prosperity.

Saudi team

A Saudi delegation has arrived in the country to explore investment opportunities, Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told newsmen on Monday. The minister said investors' confidence was being restored and a marked improvement would be visible soon.

US power firm may pack up

A Washington-based power company, pursuing two projects involving $1.5 billion investment, may wind up its operations following discouraging signals from WAPDA about its future, Board of Investment (BOI) sources told.

In a last-ditch effort to save its initial investment and future operations, the company has brought the whole issue to the knowledge of President Pervez Musharraf, the finance minister, and secretaries of water and power and BOI, they said.