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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan-28 - Feb-03, 2002

Islamabad deserves credit for reforms

"The comprehensive economic revival programme being pursued by the government is helping Pakistan in stabilizing and improving its economy and integrating it into the international trading system resulting in enhanced investor confidence."

The Pakistan government deserves credit for the bold steps it has taken," said US Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva on Wednesday during Pakistan's 2nd trade policy review.

Almost all the major trading partners of Pakistan including European Union, Japan, US, Canada, South Korea, Malaysia, and other ASEAN partners commended Pakistan's comprehensive reorientation of its trade policy regime as part of its economic revival programme.

A large number of WTO members took active interest in the trade policy review and recognized Pakistan as a good example of a country facing acute political and economic problems but demonstrating unflinching commitment to its multilateral obligations.

The trade policy review body is an important constituent of the apex trade body which periodically reviews the trade policies of the members, to ensure that the members implement their multilateral obligations under the WTO.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Secretary Commerce, Mirza Qamar Beg, who, in his comprehensive statement outlined the salient features of the Trade Policy of Pakistan.

During the review, the European Union recognized that Pakistan's unstinting resolve to follow the path of open and liberal regime was commendable despite enormous difficulties and significant risks as was demonstrated by the severe consequences for its economy and trade performance as a result of the war in Afghanistan.

Election definitely in October: Musharraf

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said that general elections will definitely be held in October this year, ushering in a real democracy "which will be fine-tuned and adjusted according to our requirements."

"There will be strong checks and balances at the leadership level," he said, adding that nobody will be allowed in the future to give preference to his personal interests over those of nation's.

Inaugurating a three-day Pakistan Human Development Forum on Thursday, he said Pakistan needed thorough political restructuring to establish true democracy which was so far non-existent. "But this job will be done by my government."

NRB gives break-up of NA seats

National Reconstruction Bureau on Tuesday announced the provincewise break-up of the National Assembly seats, which have been increased from 237 to 350.

The most significant change in the election process is the introduction of 25 special seats for technocrats and abolition of 10 seats reserved for the minorities.

The introduction of technocrats seats and imposition of minimum qualification of graduation for the candidates was reportedly described by the NRB chief as the move to enhance the quality of the lower house of the parliament.

The general seats of Punjab have been increased from 115 to 147, Sindh from 46 to 59, NWFP from 26 to 32, Balochistan from 11 to 14 and FATA from 8 to 12. However, the NRB did not make any increase in a single general assembly seat of Islamabad capital territory.

Musharraf to meet Bush

President Pervez Musharraf is expected to meet President George Bush at the White House on Feb 13, it was learnt on Thursday.

Pilcorp, TIB merger plan

Pakistan Industrial Leasing Corporation and Trust Investment Bank will hold their EGMs on Jan 31 to seek approval from the shareholders for the proposed merger of the two financial institutions.

Shaukat meets German minister

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz met German Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Economic Development on Tuesday in Tokyo and discussed with her ways and means to boost mutual economic and trade cooperation and other issues of interest.

Provinces to get Rs1.5bn devolution fund

Chief Executive Committee on Devolution on Tuesday met for the first time to review the implementation of devolution plan and progress of district governments installed in August last year.

The committee meeting, presided over by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, was attended by all the four provincial governors, corps commanders of relevant corps, Chairman National Reconstruction Bureau Lt-Gen (retd) Tanvir Hussain Naqvi, and members and think tanks of NRB.

The review of the implementation of the devolution plan was the only point on the agenda of Tuesday's meeting, a source said.

ADB raises social sector aid

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to increase by 20 per cent its annual assistance for social sectors with a view to alleviating poverty substantially.

"We have decided to enhance our present annual level of 10 per cent assistance to 30 per cent for social sectors so that the spread of poverty could be contained in Pakistan," said ADB Country Director for Pakistan, Mr Marshuk Ali Shah.

Nine oil, gas fields