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Jan 22 - 28, 2001

95% revenue target achieved: Shaukat

The government has not yet decided to start Riba (interest) free economy from July 1 as it was awaiting the final recommendations of the three commissions set up earlier to decide the issue, Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz said on Thursday.

The finance minister said that three commissions one each in State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law have not yet finalised their recommendations to have everything in place by July 1.

He did not categorically support Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Mahmood Ghazi that Pakistan's economy will start functioning in accordance with Shariat from July 1st.

Mr Aziz did not say anything when asked how did he see the prospects of foreign investment and the attitude of the international donors and foreign commercial banks in case Pakistan decided from July 1 to have a Riba free economy.

He said the commission of the State Bank was working to change the banking system while the commission of the Law Ministry was working to formulate recommendations to ensure that there was no law against Shariat. The commission of the Finance Ministry, he said, was looking at all the aspects that related to government's borrowing.

The finance minister also spoke at length on various issues including the proposed 1.5 billion dollar rescheduling by the Paris Club, his visits to Devos for World Economic Forum and Saudi Arabia for the meeting of Joint Ministerial Commission.

He said 95 per cent revenue targets had been met during the first six months of the current financial year. "The target of Rs 430 billion is very aggressive, ambitious and a stretched goal", he said adding that even if the government finally met 90 per cent revenue targets at the end of the current fiscal, it will be great achievement.

US should not ignore Pakistan, says Colin

Secretary of state-designate General Colin Powell on Wednesday described as a "delicate process" American efforts to strike a balance between US relations with Pakistan and India.

In a written opening statement during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gen Powell ascribed a peace-keeping potential to India, and said it should be assisted in this endeavour, "while not neglecting our friends in Pakistan".

"This," he said, "is a delicate process in the midst of what by any accurate account would be labelled as an arms race between these two countries."

Ministry opposes FBC transfer

The Agriculture Ministry has strongly opposed the finance ministry's & State Bank of Pakistan's (SBP) move to liquidate the Federal Bank for Cooperatives (FBC) saying this action will hurt farm sector development as 81 per cent of small farmers borrow money from this organization to buy inputs.

ICI to be demerged in three stages

The ICI Pakistan held a presentation at the KSE on Wednesday, explaining to brokers and financial analysts, the complex method through which the company proposes to hive off the PTA arm into a separate company.

"The company's demerger is a three step scheme. The first step is to separate the company's existing balance sheet between PTA and non-PTA ICI in the ratio of 80:20," stated Saad Hashemy, analyst, following the synthetic sector at brokerage Invest Capital and Securities (Pvt) Limited.

He said the second step would be to reduce the existing share capital by 50 per cent so as to wash off the existing losses from the balance sheet.

The third step was the purchase of 25 per cent shares of PTA by non-PTA ICI.

Farm export zone may be set up

Agriculture Export Processing Zone (AEPZ) and Agriculture Export Terminal (AET) would soon be set-up in Karachi, Sindh Agriculture Minister, Hasan Ali Chaniho, said on Thursday.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of Sindh Facilities Board, held under the chairmanship of the Minister.

According to preliminary details, the AEPZ would be set-up on an area of 150 acres behind the new Sabzi Mandi at Super Highway while the AET at Terminal No 3 of Karachi Airport.

Fishing policy

The lop-sided deep sea fishing policy is inflicting losses in millions of dollars to the country as fishing potential beyond territorial waters upto 35 miles remains almost un-exploited.

The existing deep sea fishing policy of 1995, has reserved fishing rights between 12 to 35 miles for traditional small scale fishermen on a considered opinion that in due course they will enhance their capabilities of harvesting through up-gradation of their crafts and skill.

Pakistan to join fish organization

Pakistan has decided to join the Inter- governmental Organization for Marketing Information and Technical Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Asian and Pacific Region (INFOFISH) to exploit its potential in the seafood products.

The membership fee of this 14 member-countries organization, set up in 1985, is $15,000 per annum.

UK envoy meets traders

The UK High Commissioner Hilary Synnot has said that the British investors are keen to invest in the fields of IT, oil and gas and agricultural sector, as well industrial joint ventures between both the countries for strengthening economic partnership.

He made these remarks during a meeting with the three-man team of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

PTCL, Alcatel sign MoU

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company limited (PTCL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with M/s Alcatel for quick the availability of hardware and software solutions, specially for the primary rate access for promotion of information technology and internet in the country.