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Sep 10 - 16, 2001

Depositors allowed to draw Rs250,000 from NDFC

The State Bank has allowed all individual depositors of National Development Finance Corporation to withdraw from their accounts a maximum principal amount of Rs250,000 or the balance whichever is lower.

The State Bank said in a press release that this amount would be in addition to the profit accrued on NDFC accounts up to Aug 27.

The decision, which would take immediate effect, was taken at a meeting held at the State Bank and chaired by Governor Dr Ishrat Husain in which NDFC Chairman Badaruddin Khan and senior SBP officials were also present.

Earlier, the SBP had allowed small NDFC depositors having up to Rs100,000 in their accounts to withdraw the principal amount from Sept 5.

"With today's decision, 28,000 out of a total of over 39,000 individual depositors will fully recover their entire deposits with the NDFC," says the SBP press release. The remaining 11,000 depositors would also be allowed to withdraw Rs250,000 from the outstanding balances in their accounts. "They would be able to draw another Rs250,000 from the 3rd week of next month.

The release also quoted Dr Ishrat Husain as saying in a PTV interview that the decision to merge the NDFC with NBP had been taken in the larger interest of the country and the depositors.

He said, "we are committed to strengthening the financial sector in the country. For this, we have to take some hard decisions to weed out the weaker and unviable institutions so that the depositors' money remains safe and secure in the hands of strong banks and institutions."

He said that the defaulters and the corrupt officials of the NDFC would be taken to task. However, he said all the other staff of NDFC would be offered a Golden Handshake Scheme on very attractive terms.

Chinese cos keen on coal-fired plants

At least four Chinese companies have expressed interest in coal-fired power projects in the province of Sindh, said director general of Sindh Coal Authority (SCA), Ahmeduddin Hanjrah .

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, he identified the Chinese companies as Shenhua Group Corporation of China, China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation, Jiangsu Mining & Engineering Corporation and Beijing Coal Design & Research Institute.

He said these companies are currently carrying out their feasibility studies.

Provinces give consent to offer

All the provinces have agreed, in principle, that the Asian Development Bank's offer for a $130 million soft loan to bring about judicial reforms should be accepted.

Federal law ministry officials told that an ADB appraisal mission had met the four governors and they had, in principle, agreed that the loan should be accepted. The provinces, however, have not communicated, in writing, to the federal government about their consent to the offer.

The federal government had sought a written commitment from the provinces, for ultimately it would be the responsibility of the provinces to repay the loan.

Sources said that after the opposition of all the high courts that the office of the proposed 'judicial ombudsman' should not be created, the ADB had decided that the appointment of 'administrative judge' would serve the purpose.

Licence cancelled

National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Wednesday served cancellation of generation licence notice on Maple Leaf Electric Power Company, it is reliably learnt.

The 14-day notice was issued by Nepra in view of documentary evidence furnished by WAPDA against Maple Leaf for allegedly concealing information from the authority while seeking generation licence.

Alcatel offer slowest bid

The board of directors of Pakistan Telecom Mobile Limited (PTML) has opened bids for the second phase of its mobile service expansion which put Alcatel of France as the lowest bidder, official sources told on Thursday.

Opened in the presence of four National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials, Alcatel quoted a bid price of about $73 million (comprising $55 million and Rs1.2 billion) against $130 million of Nortel Networks of Canada (including $105 million and Rs1.7 billion).

Spy satellite

Pakistan has offered US$130m to Russia for launching a spy satellite capable of "keeping an eye on India and other neighbouring countries," a paper reported. The preparations are nearing completion for the launch of 'BADR-B' aboard Russian Zenit booster.

JP Morgan closes business

JP Morgan confirmed on Tuesday that it was closing down the equity broking business in Pakistan, ending weeks of speculation at the market. But stock brokers argued that the closure of yet another foreign brokerage house was not negative for the market, because unlike in the case of termination of a foreign fund, the investor profile in this case remains unchanged.

Regional gas pipeline options

Pakistan has decided to formally launch an independent Interstate Gas Company Limited (IGCL) with a full-time chief executive and other professionals to actively pursue regional pipeline options for gas imports.

Official sources told that the company has already been registered under the Companies Ordinance of 1984 and the government was in the process of inducting a full-time managing director and his team from the private sector.

SBP deputy governor

The federal government has appointed Tawfiq A Hussain as deputy governor, State Bank of Pakistan, for a three-year term with effect from September 20 vice Mukhtar Nabi Qureshi, says a notification issued by the finance division.

Revenue target cut

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday confirmed a Rs13.7 billion reduction in the current year's revenue target and hinted at fresh adjustments to maintain the budget deficit at 4.9 per cent of the GDP.