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Tomorrow 11 27 38 Sunny
Day after 11 28 38 Sunny
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Today 1 20 87 Sunny
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Day after 2 21 87 Sunny
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Today 0 18 59 Sunny
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Day after 0 21 59 Sunny
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updated: Fri - Sun 23-25 Dec, 2005

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IN THE NEWS
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  PAKISTAN

Dec 12 - 18, 2005

MUSHARRAF URGES PLAN FOR ISLAMIC RENAISSANCE

President General Pervez Musharraf has urged the Muslim leaders to work out a strategy for Islamic revival and renaissance, and proposed a mandatory contribution by each member state for scientific and technological advancement. He asked extremists to shun violence.

In a wide-ranging address at the 3rd extraordinary summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), President Musharraf called for adopting a conciliatory course in the interest of progress and prosperity of Muslim peoples.

He said that a confrontationist course could only lead to further destruction and deprivation and exhorted the need for a conciliatory approach for the wellbeing of the future generations.

"From this holy city of peace and tolerance, I appeal to all extremists in our society to see reason, and shun the path of violence, which offers no salvation and will only lead to more pain and more misery," he emphasized.

The president said that most Muslim societies were struggling to evolve stable institutions for governance and remained far removed from the frontiers of knowledge, education, science and technology.

"Our economies remain fragile and mostly dependent on raw material production. Even the rich among us are consumers of the fruits of modernization and innovation of other advanced nations who are shaping the direction of progress and future of the world."

Advocating mandatory contributions, he cautioned that all dreams would remain unfulfilled if not fully backed by collective will and adequate financial resources.

"We must commit to subscribe 0.01 per cent of our GDP which will amount to around $180 million or at least 0.005 per cent of our GDP, which works out to be $90 million," the president pointed out.

VEHICLES SURPASS ALL IMPORT ITEMS

Contrary to the general perception it was not textile machinery but the cost of vehicles that topped the category of machinery import in terms of value over the last two years, the break-up of the import bill revealed.

The rising trend in imports of motor vehicles surpassed all items being listed in the machinery group in terms of value, even the textiles sector that received over $5 billion investment in the last four years.

The current fiscal year 2005-06 is again stretched with import bills of motor vehicles as in the last three months the total import was 89 per cent higher than the textile sector.

Textile machinery bills for three months were $191.215 million while that of motor vehicles were $361.187 million.

The auto sector has been booming for the last three years and was among the top performing sectors of the economy but its role looks negative as far as the widening trade deficit is concerned.

Machinery group is the highest user of the foreign exchange and was the main reason for the country's widening gap in balance of payment.

The rising trend in imports of motor vehicles was noticed in 2002-03 when the import of this sector was just close to the import bills of textile machinery. In 2003-04, imports of motor vehicles reached $625.7 million while textile machinery, which increased to $597 million, still remained below the auto sector.

In the fiscal year 2004-05, imports of motor vehicles reached close to $1 billion, giving red signals to economic managers facing immense pressure to meet the growing challenge of increasing balance of payment problem.

The first three months of the current fiscal has already indicated the trend (average per month import $120 million) and it might cross the $1 billion mark by the end of the year. The country expects a trade deficit of $6 billion this year, which is just close to the import bill of machinery group the previous year ($5.8 billion in 2004-05).

NEW BUYER TO INVEST $800M IN KESC

KESC chief executive office Frank Scherschmidt has said the new management will invest $800 million to increase its power generation capacity. Talking to a three-member delegation of the FPCCI committee on public utilities, he promised them that load-shedding problems would be over by March 2006.

The overhauling of machinery is being done on priority basis to do away with the voltage fluctuation. He said problems being faced by the consumers would be resolved in the next three months, says an FPCCI press release.

About litigation cases of defaulters, he said the out-of-court settlement committee, which functioned previously with the representation from KESC and the private sector and consumers, had the option for an amicable settlement outside the court. He assured the delegation that the committee would be reactivated.

Mr Scherschmidt said consumer centres on the type of call centres would be set up in various parts of the city, including the FPCCI head office, to provide various facilities to the consumers.

Regarding the relief package for overdue bills of KESC, he said the package for common man was under consideration.

BANKS SEEK HIGHER RETURN ON T-BILLS

The State Bank could not raise the liquidity it targeted through the selling of treasury bills mainly because the banks were asking for higher return.

The SBP had set a target of Rs35 billion through the auction of T-bills and wanted to pick up the whole inflows of Rs35 billion but the bidders (banks) were not ready to purchase the bills at the prevailing prices.

Following the tight monetary policy, the SBP refused to sell the T-bills at any higher prices and rejected all bids of 3 and 6 months maturity.

However, the bids offered were below the target and total bids reached Rs34.472 billion. Bids offered for 3-month started from 8.1 per cent to 8.29 per cent while the 6-month T-bills received offers at 8.29 per cent to 8.55 per cent. These rates were higher than the prevailing rates which prompted rejection from the SBP.

FREE TRADE PACT

Pakistan and China started a second round of negotiations on free trade agreement, with a pledge to make it an effective document giving boost to their bilateral trade and establishing a mutually beneficial cooperative partnership.

Pakistan's side was being represented in the meeting by a six-member delegation led by Shahid Bashir, a senior official of the ministry of commerce.

GERMANY,UK TRYING TO RESOLVE DUMPING ISSUE

Germany and Britain are trying to resolve the issue of anti-dumping duty on Pakistani bedlinen to facilitate its textile exports to European Union. German Ambassador Dr Gunter Mulack disclosed this during a meeting of the 30-member businessmen delegation from his country with Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Mian Shafqat Ali. Former LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman also attended the meeting.

He said that the German businessmen were visiting Pakistan to explore the possibility of investment and joint ventures. A German group has already finalized an agreement with a business concern for setting up business in Karachi.

Economic relations between Germany and Pakistan have strengthened following a number of high-level business visits carried out recently , the ambassador added.

HBFC TO OPEN OFFICES IN 35 TOWNS

The House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) has appointed 50 service agents for opening up new representative offices in small towns and tehsils to extend its lending activities to those areas which hitherto could not obtain financial assistance from the corporation.

In the first phase, 35 small cities and towns would benefit by getting prompt service from these agents appointed by the HBFC for opening of representative offices. This will take the total number of the HBFC network to over 100 branches.

During 53 years of its existence, the HBFC opened 58 district offices in cities and major towns. But it was always felt that the people in far-flung areas have to travel long distances to obtain financial assistance from the Corporation.

EXPORT CARGO RATES REDUCED

The Sialkot Dry Port Trust has reduced the bonded cargo transport rates by Rs6,000 and Rs3,000 for a 40-ft and 20-ft container respectively. The new rates reduced under a special package of incentives for exporters will come into effect from December 10.

NIT TO BE SPLIT FOR SELL-OFF

The National Investment Trust (NIT) - Pakistan's largest mutual fund that holds Rs75 billion under management - would be split into six parts, three would be distributed to three banks - Faysal Bank, Bank of Punjab and National Bank of Pakistan - that hold the letter of comfort (LoC) and the remaining would be put on public auction.

An executive officer at the NIT recalled that in March this year, the proposal was to split the fund into five parts, with two going to the LoC holding institutions and three under the hammer. Did the three institutions with LoC then ask for a bigger slice of the cake?

GOLD PRICES ON RISE

Domestic gold prices continuing their upward trend rose to Rs9,957 on Tuesday last from Rs9,865 per 10 grams a day earlier owing to persistent increase in gold prices at the global level.

Consumers buying gold jewellery sets paid Rs11,615 per tola on Tuesday as compared to Rs11,560 on Monday.

International gold prices maintained the rising trend; touching over $510 per ounce (a 23-year record high) over reports of inflation worries in the United States creating alarm that gold prices may further go up in coming days.

RICE PRICES STEADY

Pakistani rice prices were steady over the past week, but dealers said prices could come down in coming weeks because of low exports and rising stocks.

"Domestic prices have fallen in the last few weeks, but steadies slightly as some growers held back supplies to support the market," a Karachi-based dealer was quoted as saying. "But there have hardly been any fresh export orders, and prices are expected to ease to attract international buyers," he said.

TERMINALS

The Karachi Port Trust has deepened the draught of terminals up to 11 metres of the Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT), allowing bigger vessels to take berth from December 1, 2005. The KPT has carried out the required dredging through its own resources and planned to extend this facility to container carriers call at the PICT, says a press release.

ATMS: SBP GUIDELINES

The State Bank has developed detailed guidelines for account holders using debit, credit or smart cards and advised them that after darkness, only use ATMs that are well-lighted. The SBP in its dozen advices asked all banks to provide maximum information to card-holders for their protection, theft of cards and cash robbery.

The rising frauds against card-holders and increasing hacking problem in case of internet transactions have created serious problems for the account holders. The robberies against the ATM card holders especially when they draw cash from the machines, has turned into a serious law and order problems.

EOIS INVITED FOR LTM MACHINERY

The Privatization Commission has invited expressions of interest (EoIs) for the sale of assets, including plant, machinery and equipment of Lasbella Textile Mills (LTM), a project of Iran Pakistan Industries (Pvt) Limited (IPI).

The interested parties have been asked to apply along with a non-refundable processing fee latest by December 31. The parties submitting the EoIs will be given the list of machinery.

The parties can inspect the machinery on any working day during office hours on prior appointment with Privatization Commission or Iran Pakistan Industries, Karachi.

The machinery, to be sold on 'as is where is' basis, is part of fully integrated units of 50,000 spindles and 1,100 looms with complete dyeing and finishing facilities. The plant was set up in 1976 and started production in January 1980 but was closed down in 1983.

A pre-bid conference will be tentatively held in the last week of January 2006 for better understanding of the transaction and bidding process.

PLASTIC RAW MATERIAL PRICES UP

The rising trend in prices of raw material for plastic goods in the international market is expected to adversely affect the local market where its price has already surged from Rs4 to Rs5 per pound, Pakistan Consumer Traders Association chairman Muhammad Haroon Agar was quoted as saying.

He said the raw material for plastic had risen to $180-$200 per ton and no order had so far been placed by Pakistani importers during this week. This raw material is being sold in the international market at $980 to $1,000 per ton after declining by $200, but the international market again entered into the bullish zone where the price bounced back to $1,150 to $1,200 per ton.

 
 

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