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Last updated: Friday 23 Dec, 2005-12.30 P.M (PST)

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3 DAYS FORECAST
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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

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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

Dec 19 - 25, 2005

LOCAL CARS' SALE UP BY 50PC IN NOVEMBER

Despite rising imports of new and used cars after the 2005-06 budget, a large number of consumers continue to prefer locally assembled cars, which witnessed 50 per cent surge in sales in November, 2005 to 11,749 units, from 7,831 units in the same month last year.

Car sales, during July-November 2005, rose by 28 per cent, to 58,859 units, from 46,047 units in the same period of 2004, industry sources revealed.

A major jump was seen in sales of Indus Motors (makers of Toyota Corolla and Daihatsu Cuore) in November 2005, rising by 100 per cent, to 3,600 units from 1,790 units, in 2004, followed by 62 per cent increase in sales of Honda Atlas cars, to 2,230 units from 1,380 units, in November 2004.

Sales of Dewan Farooqui Motors and Pak Suzuki increased to 1,392 and 6,776 units, respectively, in November 2004, from 1,012 and 5,127 units, in November 2004.

A 79 per cent increase was recorded in sales of Honda Atlas cars, during July-November 2005, to 12,317 units from 6,886 units, in the same period of 2004, while Pak Suzuki sales registered a growth of 31 per cent to 36,423 units from 27,894 units. Indus Motors Sales rose to 14,932 units from 13,640 units, while five per cent increase was witnessed in Dewan Farooqui Motors to 5,864 units from 5,589 units in July November 2004.

The sales figures, clearly, reveal that the consumers still prefer to buy locally assembled cars because of easy availability of their spare parts and their re-sale value. Many prospective buyers appear quite confused in selecting the imported cars despite having a wide variety of choice. The re-sale factor and non-availability of spare parts, perhaps, are the two factors that keep the new buyers at bay from the imported cars.

ADB APPROVES $1.33BN QUAKE AID PACKAGE

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it had approved $1.333 billion in grants and loans for Pakistan to rebuild quake-hit areas and for other infrastructure and development projects. The package includes $300 million in assistance to help it restore infrastructure and the economy in Azad Kashmir and Northwest Frontier Province, the two areas that bore the brunt of the October quake which killed about 73,000 people.

The quake left another 70,000 severely injured or disabled in Pakistan. More than 2.8 million people have been left without shelter and 2.3 million are without adequate food.

The cost of reconstruction and restoring services is estimated at $3.5 billion, the Philippines-based lender said in a statement.

"The project aims to quickly reverse the devastating impact of the earthquake and revive economic activity to enable people to resume their livelihoods and return to normal life," said Fernando Garcia, an ADB transport specialist.

By far the largest component of the total aid package is a multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) of up to $770 million and a related three million-dollar loan to upgrade the country's highway network.

"The MFF structure, the first to be used in ADB's operations and in Pakistan, was deemed most appropriate to meet the government's long-term needs, as it provides a flexible facility that combines large-scale financing with promotion of reforms and adherence to safeguard and oversight requirements," said ADB transport specialist Allan Lee.

The MFF assistance can be used over 10 years, during which individual financing requests will be converted into separate loans. Most of them are expected to be at market rates.

ECNEC APPROVES RS183.6BN PROJECTS

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has approved 29 development projects with an estimated cost of Rs183.6 billion.

The projects will be executed in the next fiscal year as part of the Public Sector Development Programme-2006-07.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz presided over the meeting which approved 24 new projects at a total cost of Rs157.3 billion, including a foreign exchange component of Rs87.8 billion.

It approved five old projects with an increased cost of Rs26.3 billion having foreign exchange component of Rs3.3 billion instead of their original cost of Rs23.9 billion.

Ecnec also approved incorporation of a disclosure clause in the procurement contracts to be awarded by the federal and provincial governments to identify taxable money and the element of corruption.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Akram Sheikh told journalists after the meeting that the projects approved by Ecnec included 17 infrastructure projects with an estimated cost of Rs118.2 billion, including foreign exchange component of Rs68.5 billion.

PAKISTAN JOINS CAIRNS GROUP

Pakistan has joined the Cairns Group representing agriculture exporting countries belonging to developed and developing nations in the ministerial meeting of the group, thus becoming 18th Cairns' member.

The group brings together developed and developing countries from Latin America, Africa and Pacific Asia region. It has been an influential voice in the agriculture reform debate since its formation in 1986, and has continued to play a key role in pressing the WTO members to meet in full the far-reaching mandate set in Doha.

Pakistan is an important producer, importer and exporter of agriculture products, and the sector is the main source of national employment, because over 70 per cent of its population depends on agriculture and lives in rural areas. Along with other Cairns members, Pakistan will have a vital role to play, because it has been given the role of facilitator in the non-agriculture market access (NAMA) group.

PROJECT TO COST RS784M

A Sindh disaster management agency is being set up for putting in place in the next five years a comprehensive disaster management plan at a total cost of over Rs784 million of which more than 50 per cent - Rs434 million - will go towards staff salaries, allowances, vehicles and office equipment.

However, the setting up of this agency depends on availability of 90 per cent fund from a donor or the federal government, as the Sindh government would be able to set aside only 10 per cent cost. The current fiscal year's ADP provides Rs12 million for this purpose.

BRIGHT PROSPECTS FOR CEMENT EXPORT

There are enormous opportunities for export of cement to the UAE market where construction activity is at its peak in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. "In this respect, cement intake in the UAE can further add 3 per cent to 5 per cent, on an average, in the overall demand generating for the local cement producers," said analyst Anwar Ahmed Khan in the Capital One Research report.

Cement sector analysts, at almost all research houses, have mentioned that the sector is undergoing an era of enormous growth, where total dispatches for the first five months (July-November) of 2005-06, increased by 11.9 per cent. In numeric terms, total cement dispatches of the industry stood at 7.23 million tons, as compared to the corresponding period sales level of 6.46 million tons. The Local consumption of the commodity surged by 13.7 per cent to 6.58 million tons from the preceding year's level of 5.78 million tons.

UN SEEKS $45M FOR SURVIVORS

The United Nations said that $45 million was urgently required to provide thermal protection to some 1.9 million earthquake survivors living below the snowline of 5,000 feet (1,524 metres).

The amount required includes the cost of transportation and distribution of relief items.

"Now our focus is on people below the snowline and those who aren't living in tent camps. And we estimate that about 1.9 million people live in those areas," UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Vandermoortele told at a press briefing.

RAIL FARES RAISED

The Pakistan Railways has added a fuel surcharge of up to Rs30 per ticket in its fares, effective from December 15. According to railways officials, the surcharge would be charged at a rate Rs15 on a journey of 51 to 100 kilometres. From 101km to 500km, the surcharge would be Rs25 and Rs30 from 501km and beyond. No surcharge would be charged on a journey less than 50 kilometres.

SUGAR PRICE RISES

Taking advantage of the city government's negligence, retailers and wholesalers have further raised the price of sugar by Rs1.5 per kg during the last three days, setting the commodity price at Rs32 per kg as compared to Rs26.50 last week. A total increase of Rs5.50 per kg has been registered during the last week.

7PC GDP GROWTH MAY NOT BE ACHIEVED

The government is unlikely to achieve its 7 per cent GDP growth rate in 2005-06 due to a decline in cotton and sugarcane crops and is banking more on increased electricity production and improved performance of the banking sector to achieve the desired results.

According to a newspaper report, the government was depending more on better than the expected rice production, good minor crops and Wapda's less dependence on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for generating enhanced hydel electricity to meet, what is being termed a "somewhat difficult 7 per cent GDP growth target".

The government is expecting 12.5-13 million cotton bales this year compared to 14.3 million of the last year. The target for the cotton production during the current year is 15 million bales, which, the sources said, was very difficult to achieve due to various reasons.

The reduction in cotton production will be managed by importing roughly 2 million bales. Textile mills, which used to consume around 9.5 million bales, are now consuming 14-15 million bales.

TREASURY BILLS

The 'unexpected decline' in inflation below 8 per cent has wiped out banks' hopes to get higher return on T-bills. Despite outflow of Rs4.2 billion from the money market, the rates slipped further on Tuesday indicating the presence of substantial liquidity. The SBP carried out another open market operation (OMO), the fifth since December 7, and mopped up Rs4.2 billion at a much lower rate of 7.65pc.

EOIS FOR SNGPL SHARES INVITED

The Privatization Commission (PC) has invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) from strategic investors to divest 51 per cent shareholding in Sui Northern Gas Company Ltd (SNGPL), said a statement.

SNGPL offers significant potential for and earnings growth to an investor with the resources and expertise to operate gas transmission, distribution, wholesale and retail bossiness.

HIGHER PAYMENTS PUSH DOLLAR RATES

Heavy buying of greenback by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and banks for making payment of oil bills, profits and dividends of companies pushed the US dollar rate in the interbank market.

Currency dealers said that the last three sessions witnessed heavy buying of the US dollars, which escalated its demand and pushed the rates from Rs59.79 to Rs59.90.

GAS CUT HITS TEXTILE UNITS

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) stopped supply to about 40-42 captive power plants (CPP) for an indefinite period in Sheikhupura and on Sheikhupura-Faisalabad and Gujranwala roads on Thursday last, forcing closure of industrial units in the area.

INDUS MOTOR PROFIT

Indus Motor Company reported 27 per cent growth in its 1QFY06 profit after-tax (PAT) of Rs466 million, compared to Rs368 million earned in the same quarter last year. In an analysis of 1QFY06 accounts issued on Thursday by stock brokerage firm First Capital Equities Limited, analysts noted that sales of the company grew by 9 per cent to Rs7.1bn for 1QFY06 against Rs6.5bn for the same time the previous year. The company has current capacity to produce 37,000 units per annum and it plans to enhance capacity to 50,000 units per annum by the end of current fiscal.

MAURITIUS KEEN TO IMPORT MOLASSES, ETHANOL

Mauritius Foreign Minister Anil Kumarasingh Gayan has showed interest in importing molasses and ethanol from Pakistan. He stated this in a meeting with Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan at the sideline of the ministerial conference.

An official said both the ministers also discussed issues of mutual interests, specifically enhancing trade between the two developing countries.

FAUJI CEMENT

Fauji Foundation, which holds 52 per cent shares in Fauji Cement Company Ltd (FCCL), intends to divest its entire stake in the company. Fauji Foundation through a public announcement invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from prospective buyers asking them to submit EoIs latest by January 10, 2006 to be able to participate in the bidding process.

HBL OFFERS JOBS WITH VSS

Habib Bank has once again introduced Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) for Non-Clerical staff but made it different by offering them alternative jobs with shares holding of companies the Bank will buy in future.

This is the first time such a scheme has been offered in Pakistan by any organization with an option of alternative employment opportunity.

 
 

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