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FINANCE

Feb-25 - Mar- 10, 2002

POL prices raised by 0.29-2.9pc

The Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) on Thursday increased the prices of petrol, diesel, light diesel oil (LDO), high octane blending component (HOBC), JP-4 and JP-1 by 0.29 to 2.29 per cent.

However, the OCAC had maintained the price of kerosene at Rs 14.23 per litre, says a press release. The ex- depot fixed sales prices at 29 designated locations will be effective from March 1 to 15, 2002.

Petrol would now be available at Rs 30.51 as against Rs30.37 per litre, while diesel would now cost Rs15.63 as against Rs15.28 per litre. The new price of HOBC is fixed at Rs34.89 from Rs34.68 per litre, while LDO can be purchased at Rs 13 from Rs 12.79 per litre. Price for JP-4 has been increased to Rs13.85 from Rs13.74 per litre. JP-1 will now be sold at Rs10.53 from Rs 10.50 per litre.

OCAC said that the international prices of naphta and high speed diesel have increased by 2.92 per cent and 2.89 per cent, while kerosene price remained stable.

The benchmark crude oil price (Light Arabian) also registered upward trend during the last fortnight. However the exchange rate rupee-dollar parity slightly improved due to the strengthening of the rupee. The OCAC, however, did not mention how much strength the rupee had against the greenback.

Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has increased the prices of high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) to Rs9,463 from Rs9,267 per ton. The price of light sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) has also been slashed to Rs10,786 from Rs10,880 pmt. Shell Pakistan Limited (SPL) has surged the prices of fuel oil to Rs9,467.95 from Rs9,269 per ton.

25pc HBL, 9pc MCB shares sell-off by June

Lining up a heavy sale agenda in the coming quarter, the government has decided to sell up to 25 per cent shares of Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), 30 per cent shares of Bank Al-Falah and 9 per cent shares of Muslim Commercial Bank through three different methodologies.

It has also been decided to appoint Karachi-based Arif Habib Securities as lead managers of Bank Al-Falah and Pak-Saudi Fertilizer Limited (PSFL) immediately so that pre- qualification process goes into full gear before end of March, finance ministry sources told.

A decision to this effect was taken by the privatization board a few days ago and the cabinet committee on privatization (CCOP) would accord formal approval on March 9, 2002. The transactions of MCB, HBL and Bank Al-Falah are targeted to be completed by the end of June 2002.

Gas tariff up by 8 to 20pc

The cabinet increased on Wednesday the gas tariff by 8 to 20 per cent for various slabs of domestic consumers with effect from March 1.

Official sources confirmed that the cabinet had also approved the dismantling of Pakistan Petroleum's Gas Price Agreement, 1982, aimed at phasing out the gas subsidy in five years.

Petroleum Secretary Abdullah Yousaf told that there was no change in the gas prices for any other consumer group and added that a notification in this regard would be issued on Thursday.

The secretary said that an average 8.5pc increase had been approved by the cabinet and added that there would be no increase for gas consumption up to first 100 units. The tariff for first slab of 101-200 units would go up by 7.9pc, and for above 500 units by 20pc, he said.

SBP pumped Rs2.8 bn

The State Bank on Thursday pumped in Rs2.8 billion into inter-bank market but the injection was too little to satiate liquidity-starved banks and a discounting of Rs3.8 billion was reported.

Banks have been facing liquidity shortage in the wake of Rs10-12 billion withdrawals from their deposits before Eidul Azha. The bulk of the amount withdrawn normally comes back into the system after six to eight weeks.

Mutual funds

Arif Habib Investment Management Limited an associated company of the brokerage firm, Arif Habib Securities Limited announced on Thursday that it had received subscriptions totalling Rs500 million towards the core capital of its two open-end mutual funds (unit trusts).

Rs90bn KESC debt made equity

The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved the financial restructuring of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation that would convert the government guaranteed debt of about Rs90 billion into equity. The decision will help find out viable and attractive offers to privatize the KESC which is currently incurring losses to the tune of Rs50 million daily.

Small banks pile up PIBs

Ten-year Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIBs) got a rave response from banks and corporates on Wednesday's auction despite a one per cent cut in their coupon rate.

The State Bank received Rs26.6 billion worth of bids for the bonds against the target of Rs8 billion. But the SBP stuck to the target and sold only Rs7.9 billion worth of bonds through its primary dealers.

Maple Leaf Cement

Posting a pre-tax profit of Rs19.4 million for the first half of the current year, in place of the mammoth loss of Rs238.1 million in the corresponding period of the previous year.

3 private banks income surges

Three private banks have pushed up their incomes considerably in the second half of 2001, mainly because of the enlargement of spread and a lowering of tax rate.

Financial analysts doubt whether these banks would be able to maintain their income level next year.

Balance sheets of the three banks, that appeared to have benefited most from the State Bank's decision to slash down by 4 percentage points the discount rate and cut down on T-bills rate of return plus the lowering of tax rate, are of the Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB), Bank AL Habib and Askari Bank.