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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Feb-04 - Feb-10, 2002

Action plan okayed for sale of KESC

A high level meeting on Tuesday approved an action plan for marketing of the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation (KESC) in March and to complete the deal by September 2002.

The meeting also approved the setting up of a high level task force to be headed by the minister for privatization to ensure adherence to the tight schedule to make preparations for the privatization of the KESC.

"We have decided that there will be no further delay and the KESC will be privatized by September this year," Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told.

He said it was decided during the meeting that in order to make the KESC financially viable and to attract local and foreign investors, several measures relating to financial restructuring, regulatory framework and smooth transactions will be taken during the next six months. The marketing efforts will be aimed at both domestic and international investors.

According to officials concerned the government would introduce a new law that would allow the new buyer of the organization to recover dues from the government departments and hospitals without much hassle. The new buyer would be required to inject $300 to 400 million in the corporation to make it financially viable.

The KESC is almost 99 per cent government-owned whose most of the debt had been converted into equity. A modernization and upgradation plan is also under way with the financial help of the Asian Development Bank.

Officials said that the government was also planning to change the law so that future buyer of the company should share its profit with the consumers.

IFC offers loans to private sector

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has decided to offer $30 million to the Lasmo Oil Pakistan Limited to develop Bhit Natural Gas Field in the Kirthar block in Sindh.

The IFC officials signed on Thursday two agreements for financing the project, which included equity investment of about $1.6 million for Micro Finance Bank.

Peter Woicke, IFC Executive Vice-president and the Managing Director of the World Bank Group, said after the signing ceremony that both the projects would have a significant developmental impact in terms of realizing Pakistan's energy potential.

Ex-chief of Navy stripped of rank, benefits

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has stripped former naval chief Mansurul Haq of his rank and military awards besides withdrawing his pension and other perks and privileges.

The decision to strip the former naval chief, convicted in several cases of corruption and receiving kickbacks in multi-billion dollar defence deals, of his rank has been taken on the recommendation of Naval Headquarters, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Lt-Gen Munir Hafeez told a press briefing.

Mansurul Haq would not be entitled to use the rank of retired admiral before his name, explained the NAB chief.

No more subsidy on power

The subsidy to Wapda consumers with monthly consumption exceeding 1,000 units has been abolished and they are required to pay arrears in lump sum with retrospective effect from August 2001.

This would increase the electricity bills of this category comprising around a million consumers by an average 50 per cent applicable since Aug 8, 2001, and payable during the current month.

In simple terms, the power bill of a consumer paying Rs5,200 would jump to Rs7,820 an increase of Rs2,620 per month. In addition, they have to pay during the current month a minimum of Rs6,000 price differential as they were being charged by Wapda at old rates.

Federating units likely to get more autonomy

The thrust of the constitutional package to be announced by President Pervez Musharraf most probably in his speech on March 23 will be on granting more autonomy to the federating units, it is reliably learnt.

The package, which is being finalized at the National Reconstruction Bureau in a highly secretive manner, would also enhance powers of the Senate, besides curtailing federal list in the Constitution.

Pakistan-British Group

A Pakistan-British Business Group comprising eight businessmen members has been formed, which held its first meeting on Tuesday.

With Munawwar Hamid of ICI as chairman and Vince Harris of Hubco as vice-chairman, the group explored possibilities of building up what is being said "new and durable business to business links" between Pakistan and Britain.

The formation of this group was announced at a joint press conference of President General Pervez Musharraf and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on January 7 in Islamabad.

Govt to buy 0.2m tons sugar from mills

The government has agreed in principle to purchase around 200,000 tons of white refined sugar from mills for which the Trading Corporation of Pakistan would be asked to enter the market.

In this regard a delegation of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), led by its central chairman Ashraf W Tabani on Tuesday, held a meeting with TCP chairman Syed Masood Alam Rizvi.

The quantity, to be procured by the state-owned corporation, will be used as buffer stock as well for stabilizing sugar prices in the domestic market.

WAPDA refuses to buy coal from Lakhra Mines

WAPDA has refused to buy coal from Lakhra Coal Mines Corporation (LCDC) for its 150-mw coal-fired project over pricing and other internal disputes, WAPDA sources told.

Instead, WAPDA has decided to invite open tenders from all coal suppliers to run its three plants of 50-mw each of the Lakhra Power Project (LPP), sources said.

Interestingly, WAPDA owns 25 per cent shares in LCDC along with 25 per cent and 50 per cent shares of the government of Sindh and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC), respectively.