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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Mar 18 - 24, 2002

Plan to sell 15 concerns by June 2003

The government has firmed up a schedule to complete 15 major sale transactions in banking, petroleum, telecommunications and power sector before June 2003, with estimated proceeds of around $3 billion.

Official sources told that privatization process would be kicked off afresh with the bidding of federal government's working interests in nine oil and gas fields in the second week of next month.

The schedule has been cleared by President Gen Pervez Musharraf. The plan has also been discussed with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and a delegation of US State and Treasury department officials along with OPIC representatives who were given comprehensive briefing on this schedule, sources in the finance ministry said.

"There is a lot of international goodwill for Pakistan at present viz-a-viz investment environment and the government wanted to cash in on that," said a senior government official.

The blue-chip Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is also in the list. The strategic sale of 15 to 26 per cent shares of PTCL is targeted to be completed before June 2002. Soft marketing of the transaction has already been completed and a few aggressive road shows have also taken place for this strategic unit.

Another market leader and oil giant Pakistan State Oil is also on the privatization agenda along with country's largest petroleum producer Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL).

Fifty-one per cent shares of the two (PSO and OGDCL) are planned to be sold during the third quarter i.e. before September 2002. PSO has 85 per cent market share in fuel oil, 60 per cent in diesel, 40 per cent in motor spirit, 60 per cent in aviation and 40 per cent in lubricants with largest network and storage capacity besides around 4,000 outlets.

USAID reopening missions: official

US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Thursday that it was re-opening its missions in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the new fiscal year with a focus on basic education, health, agriculture, rural development and good governance.

FO endorses UN Security Council's resolution

Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the UN Security Council Resolution 1897, passed early this week, which affirmed vision of "a Palestine living state side by side with Israel within the secure and recognized borders."

Musharraf seeks Japanese investment

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday urged the Japanese entrepreneurs to take advantage of the conducive atmosphere available in Pakistan for investment.

During his meeting with chief executives of 20 leading companies of Japan, the President said that he was delighted to be in Japan and interacting with the chief executive officers of the great companies of Japan who are known for their hard work and efficiency.

"Japan is associated with efficiency and quality and we would like to benefit from your experience and expertise," he said. He invited Japanese businessmen to come forward and take advantage of Pakistan's enormous human resource and valuable raw material to develop the country as a hub for industry in the area from where they could re-export the products to west and central Asia.

EoIs invited for 51pc stake in PSO

The Privatization Commission has invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from qualified strategic investors for 51 per cent equity stake in Pakistan State Oil (PSO), together with management control.

The interested parties have been asked to submit their EOIs with details of their company/ group, background information, experience in petroleum sector and management of Oil Marketing companies, along with audited financial statements for the preceding three years by April 10. EoIs must be accompanied with a non-refundable processing fee of $5,000 or Rs300,000. Request of Statement of Qualification (RSoQ) packages will be dispatched from April 10, to the interested parties. Early submission of EOIs will allow the parties maximum time for completion of their SoQ requirements. The date for submission of SoQs will be indicated subsequently.

Ranjha to be new law minister

The president has changed the portfolio of federal law minister Shahida Jameel, and decided to induct Dr Khalid Ranjha, as federal law minister, it is learnt from official sources.

Shahida Jameel was appointed as law minister a year ago in place of Aziz A. Munshi who was then holding dual charge of law minister and attorney general.

Investors to get incentives: President

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said the government is offering various incentives for making investment in the tourism and hotel industry. Inaugurating Islamabad Serena Hotel on Monday, he said the tourism needed to be fully developed to attract local and foreign investment in Pakistan.

Characterizing the importance of the hotel, the president said it was not a matter of creating facilities for accommodation, catering and leisure alone, but that project added to the existing infrastructure that strengthened the economy, also in terms of employment and income generation.

HBL, UBL sell-off before polls

President Gen Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday that the privatization of United Bank and Habib Bank will be completed before elections in October.

He said this during a meeting with heads of a dozen local and foreign banks at the State Bank head office. Sources privy to the meeting said the president told bankers that the government was making efforts to expedite the process of privatization, adding that the two state-run banks would be privatized before October.