PAGE PREVIOUS ISSUE

 

   

 
 
 
 
 
 
CURRENCY BUYING

SELLING

US Dollar 59.9 60
Bahrain Dinar 158 158.1
Canadian $ 50.85 50.95
Euro 70.75 70.85
Hong Kong $ 7.65 7.7
Japanese Yen 0.508 0.51
Kuwaiti Dinar 204 204.1
UK Pound 103.7 103.8
Last updated: Friday 23 Dec, 2005-12.30 P.M (PST)

MORE

 

3 DAYS FORECAST
In oC

CITIES MIN MAX

HUM%

FOR.

KARACHI
Today 12 26 38 Sunny
Tomorrow 11 27 38 Sunny
Day after 11 28 38 Sunny
LAHORE
Today 1 20 87 Sunny
Tomorrow 2 20 87 Sunny
Day after 2 21 87 Sunny
ISLAMABAD
Today 0 18 59 Sunny
Tomorrow 0 18 59 Sunny
Day after 0 21 59 Sunny
HUM%: Humidity In %
FOR.: Weather Forecast
updated: Fri - Sun 23-25 Dec, 2005

MORE

 
.

 

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

MORE

 
  COLUMN
 
 

 

 

 

 
  PM TRACKER

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Dec 12 - 18, 2005

A WEEK OF DECISION MAKING

It was the week of decision making, as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz announced various important policy decisions which may have far reaching effects on the socio-economic fronts of the country.

One of the most important decisions came in the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of Cabinet (ECC), presided by the Prime Minister, was that the government would be extending Rs. 33.6 billion annual subsidy to loss-making electric power distribution companies to ensure unified tariff for all end consumers in the country. The decision has removed the lingering threat of increase in power rates for general consumers as per recommendation of National Electric Power Regulator Authority (NEPRA).

The ECC meeting also approved policy guidelines for independent power producers (IPPs) tariff determination, national policy of power co-generation by sugar industry, package for production of clean cotton, and transfer of Pakistan Steel Mills downstream industrial land to NIP. The ECC approved a summary circulated by Secretary, Water and Power, in the meeting regarding guidelines for tariff determination for independent power producers (IPPs). After the meeting Dr. Ashfaque said that IPPs and different government departments have disputes from time to time over the tariff issue and there was need to take permanent parameters, making everything clear for the investors. "We have resolved the tariff determination issue for the IPPs once for all," he said.

After a meeting with the President and his own cabinet during which the report of the technical committees on big water reservoirs was discussed in depth, the Prime Minister launched a campaign for Kalabagh and Bhasha dams declaring them a must to meet the looming water shortage. The government has decided to develop political consensus on big water reservoirs (Kalabagh and Basha dams) before taking any final decision but did not give any timeframe. "Cabinet discussed the issue of mega water reservoirs threadbare and decided to take all political parties into confidence after which final decision will be taken," the Prime Minister observed.

The cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, set aside the formal agenda because of thorny issue of big reservoirs. The cabinet was to consider the issues like utility bills collection facilitation to the general public, amendments in the deep sea fishing policy and agreement on the establishment of a Norwegian Pakistan Advisory Board on matters relating to marriage, family and children, arising out of migration.

Prime Minister termed the controversial Kalabagh Dam as a national need and said that no 'round table conference' would be convened on this issue but all political parties and individuals who have concerns would be taken into confidence.

After meeting his party members in Islamabad Prime Minister rushed to Karachi and held separate meetings at the Chief Minister's House with legislators of Sindh Assembly belonging to Pakistan Muslim League, independent MPAs of Pakistan Muslim League (F), MQM and discussed on steps required to be taken to overcome the shortage of water reservoirs in Pakistan. He told them that the government had received three reports prepared by the committees setup to look into the water reservoirs issue. This includes the report prepared by the technical committee headed by ANG Abbasi. All the reports will be made public through media and presented to the National and provincial assemblies.

The Prime Minister said that there is a consensus in all the three reports that water reservoirs needed to be built on urgent basis to meet the shortage of water for irrigation and better development of agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the economy. However, this is a very important matter of national importance and the government will consult and take into confidence all provinces and stakeholders on the issue and the final decision will be taken with consensus of all stakeholders, he added. He said the government would hold a series of meetings to consult the parliamentarians including the parties in government, opposition as well as NGOs, members of civil society etc. on the issue of water reservoirs. However, the decision has to be taken soon and it cannot be postponed any further, he added.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of first phase of 225 MW Balloki Combined Cycle Power Plant at Balloki (Kasur), launched by Orient Power Company (Pvt) Limited, the Prime Minister said the government was pursuing a comprehensive programme to meet energy requirements of the country's growing economy with special focus on participation of the private entrepreneurs in this sector. Energy plays an important role in the growth of an economy and Pakistan has taken steps to ensure that it remains a driving force through its sustained increase, he added.

Governor Punjab Lt. General (Retd) Khalid Maqbool, Chief Minister Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, Federal Minsiter for Water and Powser Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Chief Executive Orient Power Company (Pvt) Limited Nadeem Babar, provincial ministers, parliamentarians, and Chairman Wapda attended the event. The Prime Minister said structural reforms in different sectors including energy have lent impetus to the economy and the country achieved the GDP growth rate of 8.4 achieved last year. "We have fixed GDP's annual growth target at 6 to 8 percent and would hopefully achieve it this year also." The Prime Minister said "we are one of the fastest growing economies of the world and would require huge investment of around rupees one trillion over next four years in energy sector of the country to maintain this growth rate", he said adding that the Economic Coordination Committee of Cabinet in its meeting took decisions to facilitate investment in this sector. The role of concerned departments including WAPDA, NEPRA, PPIB etc has been clearly defined with clear policy guidelines for approval of projects.

Stating that energy security was of vital importance for any country, the Prime Minister said government was fully aware of it and is determined to exploit all resources of energy. He said government was pursuing a comprehensive programme to meet energy requirements of the country's growing economy with special focus on participation of the private entrepreneurs in this sector.

The Prime Minister said some six years back, the country's economy was in crisis with power sector facing a host of problems including high tariff and IPPs issue. However, with the special attention of President Musharraf "we not only rationalized tariff structure and resolved IPPs issue, but also evolved a framework to ensure sustained growth of energy sector."

Inaugurating the 10th session of the Asian Pacific Telecommunity (APT) in Islamabad the Prime Minister disclosed that new undersea cable would be operational next month that would provide Pakistan with more options of Internet and digital connectivity with the world. A fault in an undersea fibre-optic cable in June this year had disrupted Pakistan's data communication links with the outside world and disturbed Internet and data feed lines. But with new cables, the premier said that such disruption would never occur in future. He said, the country will have redundancy in both land and sea routes as the country also uses satellite as a backup.

"But the country of our size, growing the way we are, we need many different options to connect with the world," he said, adding the government was going to explore more avenues and would encourage the private sector to put an undersea cable. He held out a firm assurance that the government would ensure level playing field to every investor.

Unveiling the plague of Old Pier-II completed by Karachi Port Trust at Keamari, the Prime Minister said the four element planning for the next five years involve refurbishing and reconstructing, enhancement and modernization of the rail, road, sea and air infrastructure of the country.

Starting with the port he said deep water draft and terminal and various projects were coming up at Port Qasim, besides a new port at Gwadar which is nearing completion. To make the port sufficient for world's outsourcing, privatization and corporatization will be the way of life. This is not rocket science, this is something the world has already done and Pakistan is in a cluster mode. "I am very pleased that two major container terminals at Karachi Port are being run by private enterprise, which is exactly the way to go. And the same thing is happening at Port Qasim and will happen at Gwadar Port," he added pointing out that these are global businesses now as Pakistani ports will be receiving cargoes from all over the world.

Talking about air travel and business the Prime Minister said the government is getting in more airlines and some major aircraft will start coming to Karachi and other cities of Pakistan in near future. "Today's situation is such that no seat is available for coming in or going out of Pakistan. This is unacceptable and we have to create capacity in our own airlines and get foreign planes to come to Pakistan. We have to allow access to our country develop and grow. We have to encourage airline business and that calls for constructing more five star hotels as I was told that hotels are full in Karachi and there is a long queue for bookings. I will encourage the private sector to invest into this business and I am sure they will not regret it," he assured promising full support of the government in that venture.

Speaking at the inaugural session of 'Industrial Conference' and Site Export Awards 2005 ceremony organized by Site Association of Industry (SAI) at Karachi, Shaukat Aziz said that the government was preparing a policy to expand the role of private sector in power generation.

He said he has discussed the issue with his cabinet members and an announcement in this regard will be made in a few weeks. He said that there was a severe shortage of power in the country and it can only be met by expanding role of private sector in the area, adding the government was ready to give all possible incentives to private sector to invest in different areas of power production. He said that the government wants the private sector to earn reasonably so as to reinvest in establishing more industrial units in the country. The government has intended to achieve 25 percent industrial growth by 2010, he added.

There exist a skill gap in the country, which needs to be filled, Prime minister Shaukat Aziz said while speaking as chief guest at the inaugural session of an international conference at Karachi. The moot was organized under the auspices of Beaconhouse System on "Towards 2035: The School of Tomorrow.

The Prime Minister pointed out that it was ironic that Pakistan which has supplied labour and expertise to the world for construction was today itself short of construction workers. He said there is a skill gap in Pakistan which has to be filled through the public-private partnership as no government can do it alone and the private sector has to play a role in this regard.

Speaking at Agha Khan University's Convocation 2005 at Karachi, the Prime Minister called upon students in particular and people in general to realize that 21st century focuses on a global society and knowledge based economies where education is to play a key role. It will be educational quality of the work force that will determine the country's economic performance. "To be a globally competitive player, we need to acknowledge a new paradigm and our education system needs change," he further underscored the need for an educational culture that harnesses the potential of country's younger generation completely and produces innovative people.

Addressing, particularly the medical graduates, he said medical education has been aptly termed as the noblest of professions which demands a blend of professional training with ethical values and human attributes. Reiterating his commitment towards quality healthcare for all in Pakistan, with major emphasis on prevention and control of diseases, Shaukat Aziz said the government vision for health sector was based on health for all. "We recognize that as a nation we have to continue work towards universal, affordable, quality healthcare for every single Pakistani," he said.

 
 

Pakistan & Gulf Economist 2005    Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Uses