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POLICY

April 22 - 28, 2002

$176.3M OFFERED FOR 9 OIL, GAS FIELDS

The Privatization Commission has received a total offer of $176.3 million from the highest bidders for the divestment of the government's shareholding in nine oil & gas concessions.

The bidding ceremony was held under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Privatization Altaf M. Saleem and attended by a large number of local and foreign investors. Newsmen were also allowed to witness the ceremony.

Later, the Privatization Commission Board met and approved the highest bidding. CCoP meets on Tuesday to finally approve the transaction. The meeting also recommended for approval of CCoP the highest bids received for E&M Oil Mills and Maqbool Oil Company Limited amounting to roughly Rs94 million (Rs 48.50 per share) and Rs27 million (Rs102 per share) respectively.

The highest bid received for 1. Badin-I offered jointly by BP Pakistan Exploration & Production Inc, UK and Occidental Oil & Gas Pakistan LLC was $131,500,000, and they also offered highest bid for 2. Badin-II (Revised) of $8,500,000. Attock Oil, UK remained highest for 3. Turkwal concession with an offer of $1,60,000. 4. Adhi oil field received highest offer of US $ 11,330,000 from Pakistan Oilfields (POL), while Western Acquisition, USA made highest offer of $532,500 for 5. Ratana field. Western Acquisition Inc. also made solo bid for 6. Mazarani field offering $107,500. For 7. Dhurnal field again Western Acquisition Inc. remained highest with an offer of $3,834,000 while 8. Pariwali field and 9. Minwal field fetched highest offer of US $ 18,695,000 and US $ 201,000, respectively from Fauji Foundation and Pyramid Energy International Inc., Canada.

Privatization Commission had early last year and again this year solicited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from parties interested in acquiring the GoP's working interest in these concessions. In response, 18 reputable parties submitted their EOI to participate in the bidding process.

STATE BANK STARTS CHASING END-JUNE TARGETS

The State Bank has started chasing the end- June targets set by the IMF and its recent moves to contain liquidity are aimed at keeping its net domestic assets (NDA) from rising.

Sources close to SBP say the end-June target for NDA is Rs6.8 billion down by Rs21.7 billion than the end-March target of Rs28.5 billion. They say that the central bank has met the end- March target by keeping the growth of NDA at Rs28.6 billion adding that it is now making moves to gradually bring it down to Rs6.8 billion by end-June.

MUSHARRAF SAYS RISK CALCULATED

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday strongly defended the holding of referendum as "absolutely constitutional" and said necessary amendments were currently being contemplated to decide about the future political setup of the country.

He told a news conference that he had not decided whether to step down in case he did not get himself elected in the referendum. "I have not thought about it so far (whether) to continue or step down in case I do not win this referendum. But I would say that I have taken a calculated risk and I am sure that I will win," he said.

OIL, GAS SECTOR

Pakistan and Russia have adequate potential for collaboration in the fields of oil, gas and mineral resources, the petroleum minister, Usman Aminuddin, said on Wednesday.

The minister was talking to a six-member delegation of parliamentarians of the Russian State Duma led by Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee, Dmitri Rogozin, that called on him on Wednesday.

EU OFFICIAL

European Union security and foreign policy chief Javier Solana is set to visit Islamabad end-May in a first-ever EU effort to try and ease Pakistan-India tensions over Kashmir, EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday.

NEW PRODUCT FOR SMALL INVESTORS

Jahangir Siddiqui Investment Bank Limited (JSIBL) told the stock exchange that it was offering a plan according to which the bank would "provide funds for investment in listed shares so that the small investors could invest first and save from their regular monthly income to repay subsequently."

The bank stated that the new product had been designed to provide opportunities to small & medium investors to avail the opportunities presented by the positive surge in the stock market, which had seen the KSE-100 index rise from 1273 on October 31 last year, to 1868 at end-March, 2002.

ENCASHMENT OF DOLLAR BONDS ON THE RISE

People encashed around $233 million special US dollar bonds between October 2001-February 2002 as they got a chance to earn 5 per cent premium on redemption of three-year bonds into rupees.

Bankers say net outstanding amount of the bonds fell to $1.153 billion at end-February 2002 from $1.386 billion at end-September 2001. They say $233 million is the sum total of the encashment of all the three types of bonds i.e. of three-year, five-year and seven-year maturity but cannot give the breakup.

THAR COAL FEASIBILITY STUDY BY JUNE 2003

The federal government has asked the Task Force, set up for the feasibility study of Thar coal, to complete the study by June next year.

The main objective of the study is to prepare a comprehensive feasibility report of the Thar coal for extraction of around five million tons per annum production of coal or as suggested by the consultants to meet the fuel requirements of a 1,000 MW mine mouth power station.