Jan-07- 13, 2002
Shaukat opens SME Bank
Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz has assured the
business community that various irritants including those relating to
the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) will be removed to encourage
increased private sector investment in the country.
"There are irritants and I do recognise that
and that is why we are taking necessary measures to remove those
irritants which also relate to the CBR," he further stated.
Inaugurating the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)
Bank on Tuesday, he said that irritants existed at federal, provincial
and district level, which needed to be removed to facilitate new
investment by the private sector.
"There are still 30 agencies which harass
people," he said adding that the government would not tolerate
hurdles to increasing business activities and that business
community's genuine complaints in this behalf would be removed.
He expressed the hope that the SME Bank would cater
to the requirements of the relatively small entrepreneurs to help them
set up their businesses. He said that the SME Bank would play a
pivotal role in strengthening the economy and generating new
Aziz said that the SME Bank will reach its target
market through programme lending schemes that had been designed to
enable fast processing of loans.
He pointed out that 30 per cent GDP growth came
from small and medium enterprises and as such they were an important
contributor to improving the country's economy. "Then 80 per cent
employment comes from the SMEs and their share in export is about 25
per cent and that is why it is said that they are important engine of
Earlier, he said, the government had set up a
Koshhali Bank which was providing small loans to the needy people.
"And now SME Bank should focus on small and medium lending to the
businessmen on merit," he urged.
Petrol, diesel prices up
The Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) on
Monday raised the petroleum products prices by 2.52 per cent to 12.87
per cent. The new prices will be effective from Jan 1, 2002.
The price of High Speed Diesel (HSD) has been
increased by 12.87 per cent to Rs14.47 from Rs12.82 per litre, while
the petrol price has been fixed at Rs29.59 from Rs28.74 per litre, up
by 2.96 per cent.
Kerosene oil will now cost Rs13.98 as compared to
Rs13.41 per litre, while the new price of light diesel oil (LDO) has
been revised upward to Rs12.31 from Rs11.56 per litre. JP-4 and HOBC
will now be available at Rs13.52 and Rs33.79 per litre as compared to
Rs12.80 and Rs32.96 per litre.
Refineries raise LPG prices
National Refinery Limited (NRL) and Pakistan
Refinery Limited (PRL) have raised the prices of liquefied petroleum
gas (LPG) by Rs900 per ton from January 1.
Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) notified on Tuesday
the increase in LPG price to Rs16,376.7 per ton from Rs15,159.8.
The new price of PRL's LPG is Rs12,866 per ton, up
by Rs900 and almost same increase has been made by NRL, officials in
these refineries said.
As a result of this, LPG prices registered a surge
in the last few weeks to Rs35 per kg. An LPG cylinder of 11.8 kg now
costs Rs265 as compared to Rs230, but in some areas the price of
cylinder has surged by Rs50.
SBP separates public service functions
The State Bank of Pakistan Services Corporation
starts functioning from Tuesday (Jan 2, 2002) as a subsidiary of the
State Bank of Pakistan. With an authorized capital of Rs1 billion, it
will be fully owned by the SBP and will perform public dealing
functions that among others include the issue, supply, sale,
encashment and handling of prize bonds and holding draws.
The government has amended the SBP act and
promulgated an SBP Services Corporation Ordinance on December 29 to
provide a legal cover to the bifurcation of the central bank into two
organizations. The SBP will continue to perform the core functions.
State Bank buys $637m
The State Bank of Pakistan has made direct purchase
of $637 million from the kerb market in last six months as against
$755 million in the corresponding period last year.
Claiming that this intervention of the central bank
did not bring any difference in the kerb, the SBP governor said that
it helped in building up the country's foreign exchange reserve to
$4.8 billion level. Of this, the SBP reserves are $3.1 billion and the
remaining are $1.7 billion foreign exchange account deposits.
Banks asked to have Rs1bn capital base
All banks have been asked to have a minimum capital
base of Rs1 billion before end December 2002 failing which, the State
Bank Governor Dr Ishrat Hussain warned on Tuesday, "all such
banks would be de-scheduled."
"Consolidation and mergers is the answer which
I have been pleading," Dr Ishrat declared at a press conference
at the SBP while pointing out that a criterion of Rs750 million
minimum capital base for banks has already expired end-December 2001.
Rupee stable against dollar
The rupee on Monday stayed firm against the dollar
as demand from the leading importers for the US currency remained
relatively slow owing to fears of war.
Unconfirmed reports say a section of exporters is
also unloading in part export proceeds to support their rupee
commitments. The dollar was quoted at Rs59.75 and Rs60.25 as compared
to Rs60 and Rs59.95 for buying and selling on last Saturday, off 25 to
Parco declares dividend
The board of directors of Pak Arab Refinery Limited (Parco) on
Monday announced a cash dividend of 34 per cent for the year 2000-01
together with the issue of four bonus shares for every Rs10 face value
share held (432 per cent).