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Aug 20 - 26 , 2001

FCAs won't be frozen, assures President

Urging exporters to bring their foreign exchange earnings back to the country and honestly declare them to the central bank, President Gen Pervez Musharraf has reassured them that the foreign currency accounts (FCAs) will never be frozen in future.

The President was speaking at the inauguration of a software technology park at the Aiwan-i-Iqbal on Thursday morning. He said the government would provide all facilities to the software exporters and support their endeavours to increase their exports.

He said the government had already announced several incentives for the software exporters so that they could push up their exports to $1 billion in the shortest possible time. He said Pakistan had quality human resources and infrastructure whose full potential needed to be exploited and exports increased. He said the promotion of information technology (IT) and the economic recovery of the country were two top priorities of his government. He said major initiatives had been taken to expand computer literacy, develop human resources and make the facility of Internet available to all people throughout the country.

He was of the view that IT could be exploited to alleviate poverty in the rural areas where 60 to 70 per cent of the country's population resided and to create jobs for the educated unemployed in the urban areas. He said his administration had already embarked upon an e- government programme to make the public sector more efficient and transparent. He said software parks were being set up to promote software exports. One such park, he said, had already been established in Islamabad. He said the private sector would also be supported in its efforts to set up such parks.

The President expressed the hope that the government's efforts for the development of the IT sector would integrate well with its devolution of power scheme. He directed the Nazim of the Lahore City District to make efforts for making the city a hub of IT.

Saudi-POF joint venture starts production

Production at the first joint venture in defence production between Pakistan Ordnance Factories and Saudi Arabia has started at Alkharge facility in the Saudi Kingdom, where arms and ammunition of different types, including 7.62 calibre machine-guns and G-3 rifles are being manufactured.

More such joint ventures will be established in a number of Middle East countries as many of them have expressed willingness to enter into similar arrangement with the POF, as it was well-equipped to undertake joint ventures in defence production outside Pakistan.

POF, with 14 production units, has made its place in the international market and exporting arms and ammunition to countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. The units are Weapons Factory, Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Artillery Ammunition Factory, Tank and Anti-Tank Ammunition Factories, Heavy Artillery Ammunition Factory, 12.7mm AA Gun Factory, Brass Mills Factory, Clothing Factory, three Chemical Factories, Explosives Factory, Propellants Factory, Filling Factory, two Metallurgy Factories, Tungsten Carbide Factory and Tungsten Alloy Factory.

US adopts delaying tactics

The US government has adopted delaying tactics for lifting of quota restrictions imposed two years back on import of combed cotton yarn from Pakistan. Although the Textile Monitoring Body (TMB) twice gave its decision in favour of Pakistan, the US government did not pay any heed.

The TMB directed the US government to rescind its unilateral decision of quota restriction imposed on March 1999, but the same was rejected without assigning any reason, sources close to the ministry of commerce said. Having left with no choice the government of Pakistan initiated proceedings with the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) requesting the WTO for the examination of the case.

Even the DSB of WTO earlier this year gave its decision in favour of Pakistan but still the US government is adamant to use all possible avenues which may assist in prolonging the dispute.

Textile traders

Textile businessmen want the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release them foreign exchange for setting up textile units in Kenya.

Inspired by an advertisement recently released by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), many textile entrepreneurs are eager to invest in Kenya to avail duty and quota free imports of apparel into US from Kenya.

The prospective investors to Kenya have also sought information from the SBP whether they could get the required foreign exchange from official channels or 'Hundi.'The US government by virtue of African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), has allowed duty and quota free imports of apparel into US from Kenya as the first beneficiary to this effect.

Govt-WTO deal

More than 100,000 persons may lose their jobs and an investment of Rs20 billion by thousand of vendors may go waste following the conclusion of an agreement by the government of Pakistan with the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 31, 2001.

Pine nuts export from Karachi at standstill

Exports of pine nut (Chilgoza) have come to a standstill from Karachi as Land Customs Department holds up cargo during transit within Pakistan. This was revealed by president Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Zubair Motiwala in a statement.

He said traders and exporters buy this product from the main markets of Bannu and D.I. Khan where growers of chilgoza from Gilgit and other mountain regions of the country bring down this commodity. He added that the Land Department has been holding the cargo on the ground that it is not a Pakistani product and pressurising the traders to give them bribes to release the cargo. Pakistan exported pine nuts worth $17 million in 1999-2000.