TRADE GAP WIDENS TO $2.4
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
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
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
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
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
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
JULY-SEPT INFLATION ROSE BY
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
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
PRESIDENT PLEDGES MODEL
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'
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
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
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.
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
SSGC Managing Director
Munawar Baseer Ahmed and ABN-AMRO Bank Country Manager Naved A. Khan
signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.
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
This was stated by Foreign
Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam at a weekly news briefing here in
"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
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
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.
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.