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POLICY

May 06 -12, 2002

PAKISTAN CALLS FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Pakistan on Thursday asked foreign investors to invest in the country as the government was pursing consistent, transparent and open economic policies.

"We are trying to remove irritants which affect business climate...and I do say that we need to do more on removing irritants to make doing business in Pakistan hassle free," said Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

The minister was addressing a day-long international investors conference in Paris Business Climate and Opportunities for Business in Pakistan from the World Bank office in Islamabad through video arrangements.

He said that trade and investment regime had been liberalized to attract foreign investment. "We do, however, believe that much remains to be done to improve the investment climate."

The government, he said, was trying to restructure public sector enterprises for their eventual privatization. "Now the situation is much better than before to disinvest the state sector and I would urge the international investors to come forward and take part in the privatization programme which is very much open and transparent.

"We are undertaking judicial reforms aimed at strengthening the rule of law and enhancing transparency and accessibility of legal system by modernizing the court system," he said, adding the purpose of these reforms was to improve the investment climate.

Since Pakistan is a gateway to the Middle East and Central Asia, foreign investors can establish their industries in Pakistan and export their products to those markets.

BANKS NOT TO RECEIVE DEFECTIVE NOTES

The State Bank of Pakistan has directed the administrations of all banks to stop accepting any currency note from the public if they find any defect or slogan on the image of Quaid-i-Azam, sources told Dawn on Thursday.

It was informed at a meeting held recently at the SBP office that any currency note having any mark on the portrait of Quaid-i-Azam will be borne by the banks. The meeting was attended by the divisional heads of all commercial banks.

REFORMS: DONORS WARN AGAINST INCONSISTENCY

The international donor community has "cautioned" Pakistan against "playing politics" with the reform programme.

"On the eve of the October elections," this caution has been reinforced by World Bank (WB) vice-president for South Asia Region, Mieko Nishimizu observation that this government and the democratic one to come, should "never forget that the people's trust is still young, fragile and can be broken by one misstep one inconsistency between words and actions."

PSO SELL-OFF TO COMPLETE BY AUG 31

As four leading firms appear ready to run for 51 per cent strategic shares, the government has decided to complete the privatization process of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) by August 31, 2002 , and wind up the bid payment process in two instalments from the successful bidder.

Petroleum Ministry sources told that four key investors have initially promised to compete for 51 per cent shares of state-run oil giant PSO. These include Kuwait Petroleum Company, Caltex and Dawood Hercules.

Shell, the second largest marketing company in Pakistan would not be contesting directly but would indirectly run for the prized oil business, these sources said. A number of other companies mainly from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Canada are also expected to join the race.

98PC OF VOTERS SUPPORTED MUSHARRAF: EC

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has earned five more years as president after 98 per cent of the voters, who cast their ballot, approved his agenda, the Election Commission said on Wednesday.

It was announced officially that out of a total 43.39 million people who used their right of franchise, 40.02 million endorsed his policies.

According to the figures released by the Election Commission after the CEC's live speech on TV and radio, the voters' turnout stood at over 70 per cent.

Out of the total votes polled, 98 per cent stamped the "yes" column, giving the president additional five years, starting from the date when the new parliament holds its first session.

OIL, GAS FIELDS SELL-OFF TRANSPARENT

JP Morgan has said all blocks in nine oil and gas concessions were bid for and results of the competitive process, and were very close to anticipated valuations and substantially above the minimum reserve prices suggested by the advisers. Bidders and participants were also satisfied with the execution and transparency of the process.

INVESTMENT ACCORD SIGNED WITH JAPAN

Pakistan and Japan on Monday formally signed and exchanged official notes to effect bilateral agreement on promotion and protection of investment between the two countries.

The agreement was signed in Tokyo on March 10, 2002 and it will enter into force on May 29, 2002.

EASY EXIT SCHEME

The last date for submission of applications for delisting of companies has been extended by 15 days, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan announced.

FIRST PREFERENCE STOCK IN 40 YEARS

If the decision by Dewan Salman Fibre Limited (DSFL) to issue preference shares goes through, it would be the first preferred stock to make a comeback in the Pakistani equity market, after an absence of more than 40 years.

ASIAN BANK TO HELP ADBP

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in view of improved operational results of Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) has shown keen interest in restructuring the financial institution in providing credit to farmers.