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KARACHI
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Tomorrow 11 27 38 Sunny
Day after 11 28 38 Sunny
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KARACHI         - 021 LAHORE          - 042 ISLAMABAD    - 051 FAISALABAD   - 041 MULTAN          - 061 PESHAWAR    - 0521 CANADA          - 1 KUWAIT           - 965 INDIA               - 91 IRAN                - 98 U.K                   - 44 U.A.E                - 971 U.S.A                - 1

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IN THE NEWS
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. PAKISTAN
 

 

 

 

 
  PAKISTAN

Oct 24 - 30, 2005

TRADE GAP WIDENS TO $2.4 BILLION

The country's trade deficit rose by 188 per cent to $2.4 billion during the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year compared to $826 million the same period last year.

Official figures released by Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) showed that during September 2005 the trade deficit increased by 212.7 per cent to $826.51 million compared to $264.3 million the same month last year.

The trade gap would widen in the months to come following the massive demand for import of tents, tarpaulin, blankets and other products for the earthquake affected people. It would be coupled by massive imports of urea, vegetables, wheat and sugar.

The statistics, however, showed that the trade deficit fell to a provisional $823.04 million in September 2005, from $826.51 million in August 2005.

Further break up showed that exports in the first quarter (July-Sept) were up 20 per cent to $4.2 billion from $3.5 billion in the same period last year.

On monthly basis, the exports increased by 35 per cent to a provisional $1.5 billion in September 2005 from $1.1 billion during the same month of last year. The unexpected growth in export during September 2005 was due to the fact that the government had asked the exporters to dispose of all the duty-paid stock before September 30.

Beyond this deadline the exporters could not claim refund/rebate on proceeds of their exports as the government had zero-rated all textile and four other sector during the budget of 2005-06.

The import bill rose by 52 per cent to $6.6 billion during the July-Sept period this year from $4.3 billion the same period last year.

The imports of goods increased by 67 per cent to a provisional $2.3 billion in September 2005 compared to $1.377 billion during the same month last year.

PAKISTANIS SENT $1 BILLION IN JULY-SEPT

Overseas Pakistanis remitted over one billion dollars in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2005-06, strengthening the government's hope of receiving over $4 billion by the end of the year.

The country received $1.002 billion during July-September 2005 against $983.15 million it received during the corresponding period last year, which is 1.98 per cent or $19.5 million higher.

In September this year, Pakistani workers abroad remitted $341.10 million, as against $312.94 million in September 2004, depicting an increase of $28.16 million or nine per cent.

According to the State Bank statement, the amount of $1.002 billion includes $6.17 million received through encashment and profit earned on Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates and Foreign Currency Bearer Certificates.

The monthly average remittances for the period July-September 2005 comes out to $334.22m, as compared to $327.72m during the same period last fiscal year, depicting an increase of $6.50m or 1.98 per cent.

Pakistan depends heavily on remittances to bridge the trade deficit gap which is widening because of a record increase in petroleum prices and rapid growth in the import of industrial machineries.

The initial estimate suggests that the fiscal year 2005-06 may witness a record trade deficit of $7 billion. Some analysts said that this was the estimate before the earthquake which would certainly force the government to spend more on the external front for the import of basic necessities in order to protect and rehabilitate four million displaced Pakistanis and Kashmiris. Pakistan has imported 60,000 blankets from India and more are in the pipeline. Still hundreds of thousands of tents require for sheltering the displaced people.

"Food and life-saving drugs will be needed in bulk quantity that will ultimately increase the import bill of Pakistan," said analyst Anwar Sami.

CENTRE MAY CUT PSDP FUND FOR PROVINCES

The provinces may lose a part of their federally-funded development programme in the current fiscal year as a first aftershock of the massive earthquake that destroyed Muzaffarabad and other regions in Azad Kashmir and Mansehra and Balakot in NWFP

According to a newspaper report, a possible cut of Rs4 to 5 billion in the federally-funded development programme for the provinces is likely in the current fiscal year. But the cut is not being applied directly in the name of earthquake. The federal government indicated that all those development schemes, which had not been approved by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), would be dropped from the proposed Rs272 billion PSDP.

DUTY-FREE BLANKET IMPORT 'TO HIT INDUSTRY'

At a time when thousands of people of the quake-hit areas are in dire need of blankets, local blanket makers are not happy with the government's decision of allowing duty-free import of blankets to meet the burgeoning demand for the quake victims.

They claimed that the current emergency requirement had been met, as the government, NGOs and relief organizations had collected more than 350,000 pieces of blankets, comforters, etc., from local manufacturers for the affected people.

They said that more than 150,000 blankets had so far reached the Chaklala airbase by special flights from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Japan and other countries.

TETANUS DRUG

The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed to rush the much-needed 100,000 doses of anti-tetanus globulin to Pakistan for use within next 48 hours.

WB OFFERS $100M FOR 'DESIGNED HOUSES'

The World Bank has decided to offer an additional $100 million to build 'designed houses' in quake-hit areas of Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.

According to a newspaper report, the new $100 million funding would be in addition to the $40 million assistance that had been announced by the World Bank for strengthening the relief operation.

The bank has also decided to create a $5 million Disaster Relief Fund out of the $230 million assistance earlier extended to the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

JULY-SEPT INFLATION ROSE BY 8.64PC

Inflation rose by 8.64 per cent year-on-year during July-September of the fiscal year 2005-06 chiefly owing to soaring oil prices that have an all-encompassing impact on prices.

Official data released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) indicated that in September, the year-on-year increase in inflation was 8.53 per cent.

Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is creeping steadily upward during the last few years. It stood at 3.58 per cent in 1999-2000, but increased to 4.57 per cent in 2003-04 and to 9.28 per cent in the fiscal year 2004-05.

PSO ISSUES TENDER FOR FUEL OIL

Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has issued a tender to buy 275,000 tons of high-sulphur fuel oil for November and December delivery, said a newspaper report.

The company is seeking three confirmed cargoes of 125-180-centistoke (cst), of 55,000 tons each, for deliveries during Nov 1-3, Nov 8-10 and Nov 16-18 to the Port Qasim in Karachi.

It is also requesting for two optional cargoes of the same size for November and December delivery, on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis.The tender closes on Oct 25 and will remain valid till Oct 27.

EXPORT OF TENTS BANNED

Pakistan has banned the export of tents as it needs as much makeshift shelter as possible after the quake that left three million people homeless, the national disaster response chief was quoted as saying.

Major General Farooq Ahmad Khan made the announcement hours after a senior United Nations official said there were not enough winter-weight tents in the world to keep desperate survivors of the disaster warm this winter.

"All exports of tents have been banned with effect as of today. So all that is the production capacity in this country will be available to us in a few days," Gen Khan told a news conference.

He said there were 37 tent-making factories in Punjab capable of producing 75,000 tents a day.

PRESIDENT PLEDGES MODEL VILLAGES

President Pervez Musharraf said his government had planned to construct safe buildings and model villages under a reconstruction and rehabilitation programme for the earthquake-devastated areas of Azad Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province.

In his second address to the nation through radio and TV networks in a week, he said relief effort in the stricken areas had improved after initial problems since the killer earthquake struck on October 8. He urged the sufferers and donors to take benefit of an army relief network set up in the affected areas.

EU PROMISES 'GENEROUS' ASSISTANCE

European Union foreign ministers have promised to help Pakistan rebuild northern areas of the country devastated by the recent earthquake. EU governments would be "generous" in providing Islamabad with reconstruction assistance in addition to their immediate humanitarian aid response to the tragedy, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters.

Mr Straw did not give any figures but earlier officials had said ministers were considering a grant of about 100 million euros to Pakistan. It was not clear, however, if this would be fresh assistance or a reorientation of the EU's current 150 million euro annual aid programme for the country.

The most urgent need was to provide Pakistan with "assistance in kind", including winterised tents, Mr Straw said.

CHINA SENDS 90-TON CONSIGNMENT

China sent 90 tons of relief material, including tents and blankets, to Pakistan for quake victims. The China Red Cross Society and the Communist Party of China (CPC) have sent the donation.

The donations are coming up from individuals, state-owned and the private companies, said Pakistan's Ambassador Salman Bashir. He told APP that the Chinese assistance so far had reached worth over $12 million. The Chinese government and the Chinese companies have pledged more aid for the relief and rehabilitation work in Pakistan.

EOIS FOR NPCC INVITED

The Privatization Commission has invited expressions of interest (EoIs) from qualified strategic investors with experience in handling large power projects on turnkey basis or consortia preferably in partnership with financially sound Pakistani companies interested in acquiring 51 per cent stake in the National Power Construction Corporation (NPCC), including the management control.

LNG PROJECT

Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) signed a consultancy advisory agreement with a consortium led by ABN-Amro Bank for the implementation of its first integrated LNG project.

SSGC Managing Director Munawar Baseer Ahmed and ABN-AMRO Bank Country Manager Naved A. Khan signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.

IRANIAN BANK

Bank Milli Iran, the largest bank in Iran, will shortly open its branch in Karachi. The move is aimed at increasing trade with Muslim countries.

RECONSTRUCTION COSTS COULD GO BEYOND $5BN

Pakistan has declared that the reconstruction cost of areas affected by the devastating October 8 earthquake could go well beyond the initial estimate of $5 billion.

This was stated by Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam at a weekly news briefing here in the afternoon.

"The process of damage assessment has not completed but it may go well beyond the initial estimate of US$5 billion," Ms Aslam said while answering questions.

DIPLOMA IN WORLD TRADE

The International Islamic University, Faculty of Management Sciences, has signed a partnership agreement with Trade Initiatives from Human Development Perspective (TIHP), a joint project of Ministry of Commerce and UNDP-Pakistan, for starting a one year diploma programme in World Trade and Intellectual Property Rights for women professionals.

PAKISTAN STEEL CUTS PRICES

Pakistan Steel has further slashed the prices of its products with immediate effect to facilitate reconstruction in the earthquake hit areas and discourage dumping of sub-standard imported steel products in the country.

The prices of its cold rolled and galvanized materials were reduced by Rs1,000 per ton. Besides, the prices of billets used for making construction bars had also been cut by Rs750 per ton, said a PS statement.

Pakistan Steel had earlier reduced the prices of hot rolled coils by Rs2,500 per ton just a couple of weeks ago.

PHONE SETS EXPORTED TO NORWAY

The Pakistan Communication Industries, a subsidiary of the Telecom Foundation, exported another consignment of multi-featured modern digital telephone sets of international standard to Norway.

PCI chief executive Muhammad Arif Khan told APP that the company was producing diverse telephone products compatible with the telecommunication needs of different countries, including Pakistan.

HBL BRANCH

Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) announced that its branch in Bagh, Azad Kashmir, has resumed regular operations on a daily basis. The bank further said that the 192 HBL branches would now remain open till 3:00 p.m. in Ramazan to facilitate people to deposit their donations into President's Relief Fund. Meanwhile, the United Bank Ltd in a separate press release said that it had extended business timings during Ramazan up to 3.00 p.m. for accepting donations for the President's Relief Fund.

 
 

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