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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Feb-18 24, 2002

Remittances rise to $982m in six months

The government is expecting $2 billion foreign remittances during 2001-02, by the overseas Pakistanis, owing to fast improving economic environment.

Official sources said on Wednesday that during the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal, remittances had risen to $982.32 million against $609.16 million of the corresponding period in 2000-01. "And now our assessment is that these remittances will reach to roughly $2 billion by June 30 this year", said an official.

The government is considering a proposal to offer more incentives to the overseas Pakistanis for getting their remittances transferred through normal banking channels.

The sources said that while new anti-money laundering laws were in the offing to discourage Hundi and Hawala transactions, the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) and Board of Investment (BoI) were preparing a package to ensure protection of overseas Pakistanis' investments/dollar accounts, and at the same time offering them a 'reasonable return' on their investment.

The government, the sources said, would create an institutionalised set up to attract Pakistani expatiates' investments in the country. The Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (Smeda), and small industrial corporations of Sindh and Punjab are particularly being involved to have joint ventures with the expatriates in various fields.

"There is a possibility of creating a new institution for this purpose other than Smeda and small industrial corporations", said another official. The government was also considering to set up small industrial corporations in other part of the country, he added.

The economic environment, the sources said, also favoured to send more Pakistanis abroad for employment purposes.

State Bank injects Rs18.3bn

Most banks overcame their liquidity problems on Tuesday as the State Bank pumped in Rs18.3 billion in inter- bank market. The central bank made the injection through two-week and four-week reverse repo of treasury bills at an open market operation.

The SBP said it injected Rs8.5 billion for two weeks at 6.25 per cent and Rs9.8 billion for four weeks also at the same rate. The injection is expected to keep banks liquid enough to finance withdrawals from deposits ahead of Eidul Azha likely on February 23.

Pakistan expects $500m FDI

The government is expecting to have roughly $500 million foreign investment in Pakistan during the current financial year due to what is being termed changed favourable international environment.

"According to our latest projections there will also be roughly $800 million and $1.5 billion foreign investment in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, respectively," said Chairman, Board of Investment, Wasim Haqqie.

Speaking at a news conference along with Secretary Commerce Dr. Akram Sheikh on Monday, he said that September 11 events had swiftly changed Pakistan's perception in the outside world, which was helping to secure substantial foreign investment in the country.

Second tranche

The IMF Board may meet in late March or early April to approve the second tranche of $110 million out of $1.3 billion Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF) for Pakistan.

Hubco declares 40pc cash dividend

The Hub Power Company Limited (Hubco) announced on Thursday, interim cash dividend at 40 per cent or Rs4 per share. For the six months to end-December 2001, Hubco reported gross profit amounting to Rs4,264 million on turnover of Rs8,395 million.

PIA earns Rs300m profit

The Board was apprised that the airline had recorded the operating profit of Rs300 million as against loss of Rs3.9 billion during the corresponding six months of the previous year.

SG may acquire 10pc stake

French bank Societe Generale (SG) is negotiating to acquire a 10-per cent stake in Pakistan's first Islamic commercial bank, which is due to begin operating next month, an official said on Wednesday.

BBF, SSF decide merger

The Board of Directors of BSJS Balanced Fund Limited (BBF) and Security Stock Fund Limited (SSF) have decided to merge the two companies, an announcement by BBF on Wednesday said.

Sugar price soars by Rs2 per kg

The retail price of sugar has surged by Rs2 per kg in the last 10 days to Rs23 from Rs21 per kg. The wholesale prices, which were quoted at Rs1,850 per 100-kg bag 10 days back , have now increased by Rs270 per 100 kg to Rs2,120 on Wednesday, wholesalers said.

Travellers cheques

The State Bank has allowed banks to issue foreign currency travellers cheques to Pakistanis as well as foreign nationals provided they surrender equivalent amount of foreign exchange in cash.

Up to 20pc HBL shares to be off-loaded

The government has decided to off-load five to 20 per cent shares of the Habib Bank Ltd with a view to giving benefits of the privatization to the general public.

"Hopefully we will be offering 10 per cent initial public offering (IPO) to earn roughly Rs1.6 billion, keeping in view Rs16 billion capital of the Habib Bank," said Minister for Privatisation, Altaf M. Saleem.

Dollar down by 1.3pc in two weeks

The US dollar lost 35 paisa more against the rupee in the open market this week bringing the total loss it suffered in two weeks to 80 paisa.

On Saturday the greenback finished at Rs59.90/Rs60 for spot buying and selling in the kerb market down from Rs60.25/ Rs60.35 a week earlier. Two weeks ago the dollar had closed at Rs60.70/Rs60.80.