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POLICY

April 15 - 21, 2002

MUSHARRAF TERMS REFERENDUM CONSTITUTIONAL

President Gen Pervez Musharraf began campaign for his referendum from the historic Minar-i-Pakistan on Tuesday, asking people to elect him for five years if they approved his policies and wanted their continuation. He asked them to be ready for the referendum which, he said, would be held on April 30.

Speaking at a public rally for about 45 minutes at the place where Pakistan Resolution was adopted on March 23, 1940, the President targeted Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and "those who wanted them to return to Pakistan to again plunder it," some senior politicians who, he said, were out to promote "negative politics," and the religious parties in the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.

Thousands of people attended the rally for which all government resources had been used. They included workers of PML-Q, Millat Party, Tehrik-i-Insaaf, Pakistan Awami Tehrik, JUP (Niazi), All Pakistan Christian Movement, Qaumi Jamhoori Party and the MQM.

Thousands of officials of almost all government departments and the civic bodies like the district government, LDA, Parks and Horticulture Authority, teachers of government educational institutions and district government's schools and those taken to Lahore from other cities by their district Nazims were among the audience.

Plain clothesmen belonging to police, army, rangers and other agencies mingled with people and filled the open space between them and the stage, raising slogans and carrying portraits of Gen Musharraf which were distributed among them by their seniors in civvies.

Provincial and some federal ministers, Corps Commander Lt-Gen Zarrar Azim, ISPR chief Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, all administrative secretaries and senior military officers were also present.

18 PARTIES TO BID FOR NINE OIL, GAS FIELDS

The bidding for disinvestment of Government of Pakistan's working interests in nine oil and gas wells will take place on April 15.

Gaffney, Cline & Associates (GCA) and JP Morgan are jointly acting as the financial advisers for the sale of GoP's direct working interest in these nine oil & gas leases.

These nine concessions, which together currently have daily production of over 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (approximately 9,700 barrels of oil and 62 million cubic feet of gas per day), up some 5 per cent from the year before, and contain in excess of 50 million barrels equivalent of reserves, are:

The Privatization Commission had early last year and again this year solicited expressions of interest (EoIs) from parties interested in acquiring the GoP's working interest in these nine concessions.

PROVINCIAL, LOCAL GOVT FUNDS TO BE MERGED

The government has decided to merge the provincial fund with the existing funds at the local-government level. The decision was taken at a meeting on new local government finance system held on Monday , presided over by National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) Chairman Tanvir Naqvi.

Provincial finance ministers, secretary-general finance, representatives of the ministry of finance, Auditor General of Pakistan, controller general of accounts, provincial secretaries of finance and the provincial accountant generals attended the meeting.

GOVT TO CUT CUSTOMS TARIFF IN NEXT BUDGET

Customs tariff would be reduced by five per cent bringing it down from the current 30 per cent to 25 per cent under the next financial year's budget.

Similarly, customs duty on raw material would also experience substantial reduction under the next financial year's budget in an attempt, on the part of the government, to bring down the cost of raw material to facilitate the manufacturing sector, said the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industry, Abdul Razak Dawood, on Tuesday.

UNIFORM POWER TARIFF

The government has decided to maintain a uniform power tariff across the country, even after issuing separate licenses to eight distribution firms of WAPDA.

Official sources told that the policy committee on the power sector restructuring programme, led by federal secretary for water and power, had resolved that uniform tariff should be maintained throughout the country.

TAX RELIEF

The government is considering giving 50 per cent income tax exemption to private sector educational institutions earning over Rs22 billion every year, informed sources told.

The sources said the profitability of private educational institutions was estimated at over 50 per cent. This is one of the highest profitability ratio earned by any business in Pakistan, even higher than 40 per cent profit of the oil and gas sector.

OIL PRICES LIKELY TO REMAIN UNCHANGED

The Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) is holding its scheduled meeting on Monday (April 15) amidst market reports that prices of petroleum products for the consumers may remain unchanged for next fortnight.

PC STARTS DISPATCHING RSOQ

The officials of the Privatization Commission have started dispatching request of statement of qualification (RSoQ) from Wednesday to those parties who had submitted their EoIs.

The Privatization Commission had invited expression of interest (EoI) from qualified strategic local and foreign investors to sell 51 per cent equity stake in Pakistan State Oil (PSO), together with management control in early March this year.

HABIB BANK PROMOTING SMES

Habib Bank has taken a number of steps to facilitate industrialists and to strengthen the SMEs sector, which is a backbone of the economy. HBL President Zakir Mahmood stated this while addressing the members of Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), on Wednesday.