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Sep 03 - 09 , 2001

Investors offered 10pc discount on gas feed price

The new Fertilizer Policy offers a 10 per cent discount on gas feed price prevailing in the Middle East to the investors who set up new fertilizer plants or invest in expanding production capacities in existing plants in Pakistan, Federal Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood announced on Thursday.

Unfolding a new Fertilizer Policy at the Committee Room of the Export Promotion Bureau, the minister also announced a five-year subsidy reduction programme (from July 2001 to July 2006) on gas feed prices.

Under this gradual subsidy reduction programme, the prices of gas feed will be increased by 5 per cent next July and then 2.5 per cent increase will be made every single year for next four consecutive years till July 2006.

He explained that the 10 per cent discount on gas feed price will be offered to those investors who set up new plants and also to those who take up expansion, balancing, modernization and replacement or de-bottlenecking of an existing plant resulting in increase in the production capacity.

A period of four years has been stipulated for availing this concessional gas feed price for the new investors who will have to sign gas supply agreements within this four years period.

This price will include all taxes, duties, levies, fees and charges whatsoever, whether local, federal or provincial, he said. However, GST or similar duty may be imposed on such determined price provided it is adjusted against GST payable on the fertilizer produced.

For billing purposes, the price fixed in dollars will be calculated in rupees at the average interbank rate. The average interbank rate shall be fixed twice in a year on January 1 and July 1—based on average of previous six months daily interbank rate.

IMF wants Pakistan to bridge fiscal gap

Pakistan will have to submit a set of new adjustment measures to bridge fiscal gap before the executive board of the International Monetary Fund, which meets in Washington next month.

Sources in donor agencies told that these measures should include some revenue adjustments besides steps to contain expenditures to enable the IMF to release last tranche of about $133 million of the Standby Arrangement (SBA).

Without quantifying the fiscal gap, these sources said that Pakistani authorities would submit this adjustment strategy to the IMF before the executive board meeting.

Based on these measures, the IMF managing director would recommend the executive board to complete the final review under the ongoing SBA and facilitate talks on larger financing assistance of Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.

Oil and gas exploration

Federal Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider has said the government was ready to hold negotiations with concerned people on the issue of exploration of oil and gas in Balochistan.

Speaking at a press conference soon after presiding over the fifth inter-provincial committee meeting on law and order on Monday, he said the government was ready to hold talks on oil and gas exploration, development of the province and extending facilities to masses in Balochistan."

To a question, he said that the government had initiated dialogues with the tribal elders of Balochistan on the issue of oil and gas exploration, which had yielded positive results and the government wanted to continue this process.

HBL branches

President Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Zakir Mahmood has ruled out any further closure of branches in future.

"We have already closed down 231 branches all over Pakistan till June this year and we have no plans for further shut down," he told newsmen at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Monday.

Farooq Textile seeks delisting

Farooq Habib Textile Mills Limited, announced on Monday, that the company intends to seek stock market delisting.

In an application made to the Karachi Stock Exchange, through chartered accountants Sarwar Awan & Co., the company said that it had suffered heavy losses in the preceding years and "directors feel unjustified to deprive shareholders from the return on their investment in the foreseeable future."

Bank Alfalah

Bank Alfalah launched its rupee travellers cheques in the NWFP at a ceremony attended by local businessmen, traders and industrialists on Saturday. Speaking on the occasion, chief executive office of the bank Mohammed Saleem Akhtar, claimed that the Bank Alfalah travellers cheques were unique and distinctive for the bank to have introduced denominations of Rs200,000 and Rs500,000 — the highest in Pakistan.

Banking courts get more powers

President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday promulgated an ordinance under which the banking courts would have the jurisdiction to decide suits involving recovery of loans defaulted, written off, released or adjusted on political reasons other than the bona fide business consideration.

The new law called Financial Institutions (Recovery of Finances) Ordinance, 2001, has repealed Banking Companies (Recovery of Loans, Advances, Credits and Finances) Act, 1997.

The ordinance was promulgated with the aim to strengthen banking loans recovery mechanism as required for getting banking sector restructuring and privatization loan.

ECC approves dry port at Sust

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Wednesday approved the establishment of dry port at Sust in view of the increasing international trade through the Karakoram Highway.

Sino Trans Group — a state owned enterprise of China — has shown interest in undertaking the project in collaboration with the Silk Route Dry Port Trust. It will provide speedy facility for trade between Pakistan and China.