Feb-18 24, 2002
US pledges $1 billion debt relief
President George Bush announced on Wednesday an
economic package for Pakistan, including a proposal to Congress for $1
billion in debt relief, additional $100 million for education and $142
million in increased market access for Pakistani apparel exports.
This is the first substantive outcome of Pakistan's
pledge of support for the United States-led coalition since the
Sept-11 attacks and comes as the culmination of President Gen Pervez
Musharraf's first official working visit to Washington which ended on
But the $1 billion debt write-off out of a total
Pakistani bilateral debt of $2.8 billion is conditional on legislative
approval, and the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, Mr Joseph Biden, has outlined tough caveats, including
genuinely fair elections and reducing tensions with India.
Talking to reporters after meeting President
Musharraf on Capitol Hill, Mr Biden said: "I and my colleagues on
the committee are committed to significant debt relief in the order of
one billion dollars for Pakistan this year as well as opening
discussions about the way in which we can increase exports to the
Support was real and broad both within the
administration and in Congress, Mr Biden added, but was also
"premised upon three things: one, genuine, fair, open elections
in October; secondly, assuming that he (Musharraf) will continue to be
committed in dealing with eradicating extremists in Pakistan and
cooperating with us on terrorists who may be infiltrating into and out
of Pakistan; and, thirdly, de-escalate the situation on the borders
"We want good faith efforts on all fronts
being pursued by Mr Musharraf. We now believe that is the case."
Discussing the US assistance programme announced by
the White House shortly after the Musharraf-Bush meeting on Wednesday,
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told a press briefing in the evening
that the package would further enhance Pakistan's credibility on the
international market and could possibly expand further.
SME Bank working on Islamic system
President, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Bank,
Kaiser H. Naseem, has said the bank is in the process of developing
Islamic instruments and hopefully it will start functioning after July
He was responding to a query from a businessman at
the meeting of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on
Under a Supreme Court verdict, Pakistan is bound to
transform its financial system into the one conforming to the Islamic
law before July this year, he said.
On financing, he said that the bank would not
provide any loan to the SME unless their targets were aimed at
diversifying country's economic development and value addition in
HBL earmarks Rs1bn forex for SMEs
Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) has allocated foreign exchange
of Rs2.5 billion to facilitate exporters, out of which Rs1 billion has
been earmarked for the small and medium enterprises, said Zakir
Mehmood, president HBL.
Addressing the members of All Pakistan Cloth
Exporters Association (APCEA) on Monday, he said the Bank was already
providing the finance facility in terms of dollars, and in this
connection 21 HBL branches are authorized to deal with small and
medium industrial units.
He said that cotton and textile industry is the
mainstay of national economy which is going to gain further importance
in the new global environment. He said that HBL has invested Rs45
billion in textile sector and its finance risk has also increased
manifold. However, in spite of the risk factor, the HBL will continue
to extend loan to textile sector in view of its growing importance but
with extra vigilance and care.
Washington to revive defence ties
US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld indicated
that Washington would resume long-lasting military-to-military
"strategic relationship" with Islamabad based on discussions
the Pakistani president had had at the White House.
Speaking at a press conference following Gen
Musharraf's visit to Pentagon, Mr Rumsfeld said they had talked of a
number of ways for strengthening the military-to-military relationship
between the two countries.
He said the defence consultation group was being
re- established and Undersecretary Doug Feith would be the US
representative in negotiations, and "we look forward to
strengthening the military-to-military ties".
Privatization as 'single entity'
The government has decided to privatize Pakistan
State Oil (PSO) as a "single entity" within this year.
"The new petroleum policy is likely to be announced in March when
we would simultaneously be starting the soft marketing of the PSO,"
said Minister for Privatization, Altaf M. Saleem.
Dr Ehsan Rashid passes away
Dr Prof Ehsan Rashid, eminent economist and former
Vice Chancellor of Karachi University, died on Wednesday night at Aga
Khan Hospital where he was rushed after he suffered a heart attack. He
He is survived by the widow, Nayyer. Besides,
thousands of his students, who revered him, and a vast circle of
educationists will mourn his death.
Margin on oil sale prices
An oil marketing company (OMC) has sounded a
warning (to the government) that it would be forced to quit its plans
for future investment in Pakistan if the margins on the oil sales
prices are not increased to four per cent from the existing two per
Govt not bound to lift surplus sugar
The government has not made any commitment with the
sugar mills owners to lift the surplus stock of sugar, a senior
commerce ministry official told.
The official maintained that the government was not supposed to
procure surplus sugar stock from the millers an impression has been
given by Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA).