. .
A



 1. INTERNATIONAL   2. INDUSTRY
 3. FINANCE  4. POLICY
 5. TRADE  6. GULF

A

POLICY

July 01 - 07, 2002

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS PROPOSED

The government on Wednesday unveiled its proposed constitutional package that seeks to restore the discretionary powers of the president and the governors to remove the prime minister and chief ministers, respectively.

A cabinet meeting, presided over President Gen Pervez Musharraf, extensively discussed the proposals with a view to improving the performance of political and democratic institutions of the country. There are 29 constitutional amendments proposed by the National Reconstruction Bureau headed by Lt-Gen (retd) Tanvir Naqvi.

"These are only proposals which are being made public to solicit the opinion of the nation, and after one month the federal cabinet and the National Security Council will meet to finalize the issue," Information Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood told a press briefing.

The package proposed that the term of the National Assembly should be reduced from five years to four years. The number of NA seats have been proposed to be increased from the existing 207 Muslim members to 357 members.

A major amendment has been proposed in Article 58 (Dissolution of the National Assembly). The existing provisions of the Constitution say that the prime minister shall hold the office "during the pleasure" of the president, but the president shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the prime minister does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, in which case he shall summon the National Assembly and require the prime minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the assembly.

According to the proposed provision, if in the opinion of the president, the cabinet with the prime minister at its head is responsible for serious abuse of authority or failure to check corruption or compromise on national security interests or violation of the Constitution, he may, in his discretion, relieve the prime minister and the cabinet of their functions and appoint another member of the National Assembly under clause (2) as the prime minister.

EOIS INVITED FOR BANK ALFALAH

The Privatization Commission has invited Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from the interested parties for disinvesting a minimum of 28 per cent equity stake in Bank Alfalah Limited through an open bidding process.

The PC has asked the parties submitting EoIs that they must also get requisite clearance from the State Bank prior to bidding for the acquisition of equity stake. EoIs should be accompanied by a non-refundable processing fee, which must reach the Privatization Commission by Saturday July 20, 2002.

SBP POLICY TOWARDS NEW FOREIGN BANKS

The new foreign banks wanting to enter the local market would be required to set up incorporated subsidiaries, according to the State Bank sources.

However, the existing foreign banks can open up more branches under the current rules and procedures, they added.

In a way, the SBP would formalize a situation that has existed, in actual practice, for the past few years. The central bank had suspended issuing licences for new commercial banks as the economy was considered over-banked. However, the acquisition of locally incorporated banks by foreigners was permitted. These included Union Bank and Schon Bank.

Now, the franchise for branches of new foreign banks is suspended and instead, the new applicant would have to float a subsidiary.

PAKISTANIS IN FOREIGN EMBASSIES TO BE TAXED

The government is likely to bring all Pakistani nationals working in the foreign embassies, consulates under tax net.

Well-placed sources told on Wednesday that a formal letter has been sent to the foreign office by Central Board of Revenue (CBR) for seeking details of all those Pakistani nationals working there.

Foreign office would sent letters to all embassies and consulates for the same to get the list of Pakistani nationals with details of salaries income getting from the respective embassies, the sources said.

DOHA BANK QUITTING PAKISTAN

Doha Bank is exiting Pakistan, the General Manager of the Bank Salah Jaidah was reported as saying by the Middle East Economic Digest. Jaidah, who took over as the General Manager of the bank in July 2001 , said that Doha Bank was closing its Lahore Branch and had decided to sell its branch in Karachi to a Pakistani commercial bank.

Doha Bank is the second Gulf Bank in less than a month to announce plans to close operations in Pakistan. Emirates Bank International earlier announced it was selling its Pakistan branches to the United Bank.

UNIVERSAL LEATHER & FOOTWEAR

Tuesday, the company told the stock exchange that an extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on June 20, had approved buy-back of 631,055 shares at Rs80 per share. It is an interesting development for the country's corporate sector. The decision of Universal Leather & Footwear Industries Limited to repurchase its own shares, is only the second such offer by a listed company in Pakistan. Alhamd Textile Mills Limited a slightly known textile mill at Multan had made the first ever buy-back offer of shares in April, thus written a new chapter in the country's corporate history.

SSGC PLANT TRANSFER TO PPL OKAYED

The shareholders of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) approved the transfer of purification plant, situated at Sui, to Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) through a special resolution unanimously passed in an extraordinary general meeting held on Tuesday.

The resolution also allowed the transfer of related assets of the plant to the PPL, says a press release of the SSGC. The purification capacity of the plant is 850 mcfd.