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Feb 12 - 18, 2001

Gas sale accord signed

SW-Miano Joint Venture, led by Austrian oil and gas company OMV (Pakistan), as seller signed a gas sales agreement with Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) as buyer for sale of upto 170 MMscfd of pipeline specification gas from Sawan gas field in Sindh.

The agreement, called Gas Sales Agreement for Sawan Gas Field, was initialled by, Reinhart Samhaber, General Manager OMV (Pakistan), Afzaal Akhtar, Resident Manager of AGIP Exploration and Production Limited, Pavel Marek, Exploration Manater Moravske Naftove Doly, S. Munsif Raza, MD of Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Mukhtar Ahmed, MD of SSGCL on Saturday, said an OMV's press release issued on Monday.

This agreement follows the signature by the above parties and the Government of Pakistan of a Heads of Agreement for Sawan Gas Field on October 9, 2000.

The Gas Sales Agreement and a recently submitted Gas Pricing Agreement, both for Sawan, are now awaiting approval by the Government of Pakistan, the press release said.

SW-Miano JV will invest approximately $ 160 million during the next two years to bring on stream 170 MMscfd sales gas for delivery to SSGC by late 2002/ early 2003.

Investment and sales revenues will be shared in the SW-Miano JV as follows: 19.7% OMV (Pakistan), 23.7% AGIP, 7.9% Moravske Naftove Doly, 26.2% Pakistan Petroleum Limited and 22.5% Government Holdings. The SW-Miano JV plans to increase gas deliveries from Sawan by approximately 100 MMscfd or more as soon as gas demand and gas transmission capacity become available.

OMV (Pakistan) expects to complete all engineering work for the 170 MMscfd gas processing facilities and all commercial arrangements by June this year.

Planned first gas deliveries to SSGCL via their existing Kadanwari transmission line are anticipated late in 2002 / early in 2003.

Complaints against SAP being removed

The government has assured the World Bank that it will remove all the inadequacies and mismanagement of funds from the multi-billion dollar Social Action Programme (SAP).

Informed sources said that finance minister Shaukat Aziz assured the World Bank officials on Thursday that the complaints against SAP by the donor agencies were being removed. He said that SAP was a prestigious programme that aimed at improving the lot of the people, which will continue with the help of the international donor agencies.

Sources quoting WB officials said that the donors were ready to make available additional funds for SAP and poverty alleviation, provided the programme was made corruption-free and that the government should adequately address various complaints in this behalf.

It was agreed in the meeting that in order to ensure better benefits for the poor, SAP should be restructured to improve social services delivery system, education and health services.

SECP amends IC&IA Rules

Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has further amended the Investment Companies and Investment Advisers Rules, 1971, and Asset Management Rules, 1995 for the benefit of the mutual funds industry, according to an official source.

The latest changes in the rules, Mr Zafar-ul-Haq Hejazi, SECP Commissioner (Company Law) explained, were aimed to give increased flexibility to both kinds of mutual funds in pursuing a particular investment policy.

Although the Investment Companies Advisers Rules (IC&IA) Rules have been in existence since 1971, it was only in early 1990s that closed-end mutual funds began to be established.

IMF team arrives

A five-member International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, headed by the assistant director for Middle East region Sena Eken arrived on Wednesday to review the economy, officials said.

The team will hold talks with Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and senior government officials during its two-week stay. "The economic performance, including revenue collection, fiscal deficit, inflation, balance of trade and growth in the industrial as well as agricultural sectors will come under discussion," a senior finance ministry official said.

Ban on raw material sale

The federal government has slapped a ban on sale of industrial raw materials to un-registered taxpayers through a Presidential Ordinance issued on Wednesday.

The Ordinance stipulates that the industrial raw materials imported by commercial and industrial importers to persons and firms not registered with the Sales Tax department, would be an unlawful act.

So far, the un-registered persons have been paying 1.5 per cent extra tax on the supplies of such materials. The persons enrolled under the Sales Tax Act 1990 would also be authorized to obtain such materials.

Palm oil duty review in June

Pakistan will review palm oil import duties in June when the budget for the next fiscal year will be announced, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

"We are not going to touch the existing duty structure until June," the official told Reuters. The agriculture ministry is lobbying for higher duties on palm oil imports to protect domestic crops such as cotton seed, canola and sunflower.

Romanians keen on joint ventures

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Romanian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) have renewed the cooperation agreement to further enhance the bilateral trade. The agreement was signed between the two organizations on August 18, 1994 in Karachi.

Belgian team due on 18th

An eight-member business delegation from Belgium will visit Pakistan from February 18 to 25 to explore investment and business opportunities, an official said.

Executives of six leading business houses of Belgium and two officials constitute the delegation which would visit Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and meet chambers of commerce besides meeting government officials.