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President Zardari inaugurates NBP branch in Dushanbe Page 02
The CNG kit ban is no more
Sunday, 25 March, 2012
Voila! The missing jigsaw piece of Indo-Pak trade g
Integrated checkposts to become operational by next month ISLAMABAD
n an effort to bolster trade activities between Pakistan and India, the Integrated Check Post (ICP) is expected to be operational by next month, an official said Sunday. According to an official familiar with matter told online that and once the infrastructure requirements are fulfilled, trade through Wahga will be allowed as per earlier decisions taken by the both sides. The ambitious ICP project at the Attari border is spread over 130 acres and built at a cost of Rs 120 crore and on an average, 200 trucks laden with Indian merchandise cross the Wagah border daily at present. The ICP, when fully operational, will enable 10 times the number of trucks to pass conveniently. It had agreed both countries last month for opening of Munabao/Khokharapar route for trade will be explored in consultation
he federal government is going to lift the ban on import of CnG kits and cylinders and also allow the auto manufacturers to fit it in their vehicles a period of at least 2-3 years following the strong reactions by Japan, Italy and Argentina, Pakistan Today learnt on Saturday. To discourage the use of CnG, the prices of it would be increased and bring it at par with petrol and diesel rates so that people would shifted towards use of LPG. The economic Coordination Committee (eCC) of the Cabinet had imposed ban on the import of CnG conversion kits and cylinders December 15 2011 on the move of the Ministry of Petroleum & natural Resources. however, the Diplomatic Missions from Japan, Italy and Argentina have approached this Ministry and voiced concern with regard to the decision taken by the eCC of the Cabinet which put their huge investments in risk. According to the summary moved by the Ministry of Industries after the approval of the Minister for the eCC of the Cabinet copy of which available with Pakistan Today stated that the ‘Diplomatic Missions from Japan, Italy and Argentina have approached this Ministry and voiced concern with regard to the decision taken by the eCC of the Cabinet in its meeting held on 15, 12 2011 (Annex-I), on the Summary moved by the Ministry of Petroleum & natural Resources, suggesting complete ban on ‘company fitted CnG cylinders kits” in locally manufactured vehicles besides moratorium on the Import of CnG cylinders, conversion kits and parts thereof. ‘It is highlighted by the august Missions that huge investments made by the companies manufacturing CnG kits i.e. Landi Renzo, Lovato, BRC, Tesla, etc as well as vehicle assemblers like
Indus Motors, (Toyota), and Pak Suzuki are at stake and the decision will not only result in huge financial losses to these companies but may also send wrong signal to prospective investors. The issue has been examined in detail. Briefly recalling, the use of CnG was encouraged as a conscious policy decision at the government for being an environment friendly fuel. As a result, huge Investment in infrastructure development has been made by the aforesaid companies as well as by local investors and the consumers. Presently around 3.1 million vehicles vehicles (including public transport vehicles) are plying on roads, out of which around 1.6 million vehicles are private care (including 630,000 cars that have factory fitted CnG cylinders & kits). According to the Pakistan energy Book 2010 published by the Ministry of Petroleum & natural Resources, total consumption of CnG used by transport sector is only 7.7 per cent of the entire consumption of natural gas in the country, whereas private cars and auto rickshaws consume roughly 3.5%, while the vehicles factory fitted CnG kits consume less than 1.3% of the total natural gas consumption of the country. It is also important to highlight that majority of the vehicles do not have factory fitted CnG cylinders kits but using CnG fuel are fitted with smuggled and sub-standard CnG cylinders / kits that are highly risky and prone to explosion, resulting in loss of precious lives, as has been observed during recent incidents. hence, a complete ban on factory fitted CnG cylinders / kits and parts thereof will encourage the use of such substandard CnG cylinders/kits, thereby not only increasing the threat to human lives, but also jeopardizing government revenues due to increase in smuggling and decrease in forex earnings as CnG kit manufacturing companies are exporting approximately 60 000 kits and earning foreign exchange
worth US$ 6.0 million per annum. Moreover, as roughly 50% of the components of CnG kit are being manufactured locally, the vendor industry will also have adverse impact on employment and fiscal losses. Moreover, a complete ban on installation of OnG cylinders & kits in private cars, including cabs and autorickshaws will severely affect people from lower income strata of society, who will be compelled to abandon the use of their vehicles due to relatively higher cost of alternate fuels like petrol and diesel. hence, a paradigm shift in the policy may result in reaction from masses, besides discouraging potential foreign investment. It has also been observed that acute shortage of natural gas occurs only during the peak consumption season from December to February, which can be easily addressed through an effective load management plan and rationalizing prices of natural gas and its inter-sectoral use, as also suggested by the Planning Commission in its report on “energy Crisis and Solution” The import of LnG from Qatar and natural gas form Iran would further offset the supply side gap. In view of the above, it is proposed that “Ban on company fitted CnG cylinders / kits” in locally manufactured cars and on the import of CnG cylinders conversion kits and parts thereof may be lifted for a period of at least 2-3 years, so as to enable the companies, which have made investments in this sector to switch over to alternate fuels like LPG. The price of CnG may be increased incrementally to bring it at par with that of petrol/ diesel to encourage the use of alternate fuels like LPG; and Ministry of Industries may explore other CnG conservation measures in consultation with automobile sector for introduction of more fuel efficient and hybrid fuel vehicles in the domestic market.
with the stakeholders and a joint working group would be constituted in this respect. The move of ICP will go along way to normalise trade ties between both countries. The Pakistan government announced granting of Most Favoured nation (MFn) status to India in november last year. But, criticism from a section of industry in Pakistan has forced the government to take measured steps on the issue. But, officials said they were optimistic that by the end of 2012, the transition to full MFn status would be complete. To remove non-tariff barriers which were obstructions for Pakistani exports to India, Pakistan and India had also signed three agreements including Customs Cooperation, Mutual Recognition and Redressal of Grievances Agreement. Formal trade between India and Pakistan rose to $2.7 billion in 2010-11 from $144 million in 2001, while informal trade including third country trade is estimated at $10 billion.
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Sunday, 25 March, 2012
President Zardari inaugurates NBP branch in Dushanbe
So what’s up with the economic uplift plan? g
ICCI wants a think-tank to strategise all things fiscal
ReSIDenT Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday stressed the need for further enhancing trade and economic ties between Pakistan and Tajikistan through increased cooperation in diverse fields including energy, banking, tourism, connectivity and people-to-people contacts. The President expressed these views while inaugurating along with Tajik President emomali Rahmon, a subsidiary of the national Bank of Pakistan (nBP) here in the Tajik capital. The President said he believed the bank branch will certainly give an impetus to Pak-Tajik economic relations and complement the excellent political relations. President Zardari, who drove straight from the airport to the Business Centre for inauguration of the bank branch, was received there by the Tajik President. Both Presidents visited different sections of the branch. Interior Minister A. Rehman Malik, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Abbas Afridi and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan Amjad B Sial were also present on the occasion. The President appreciated the Government of Tajikistan as well as the national Bank of Tajikistan for their wholehearted cooperation in the establishment of nBP branch in Dushanbe. he expressed his confidence that the establishment of Pakistani bank in Dushanbe will help strengthen the existing mutually beneficial cooperation between the two brotherly countries. The President said the ever increasing foreign investment in Tajikistan reflects confidence of international community in the ongoing economic
reform process, adding, with the inception of investment friendly environment in Tajikistan, he was confident, further foreign investment will come to this country. he said Pakistan’s economic relations with Tajikistan were on an upward trajectory and bilateral trade had increased manifold during the last three years, but it was still much below its real potential. The President said the two sides were working on the removal of impediments in their economic relations such as lack of air, road and rail links as well as difficulties faced by businessmen in transit of goods to Tajikistan. he said the centuries old historical and cultural links between the brotherly people of Pakistan and
Tajikistan provide a strong basis for further enhancing their economic relations, tourism and people-topeople contacts. President Zardari expressed his gratitude to President Rahmon for joining him at the special occasion of inauguration of nBP branch and said, “it is through such interlinkages that we can further cement our brotherly bonds.” Speaking on the occasion, Tajik President emomali Rahmon said the two brotherly countries have already strong and fast growing trade and economic ties and the establishment of national Bank branch in Dushanbe will further boost business to business contacts between them. he said he and President Zardari during their talks on various occasions
always discussed exploration of trade and commercial opportunities. “I am delighted to see that establishment of a Pakistani bank branch is becoming a reality.” he said the new bank branch will be in their national benefit as it will facilitate their businessmen and traders in carrying out commercial and economic ventures. “We are determined to strengthen our bilateral relations in different areas including banking,” the Tajik President added. he said, “the presence of national Bank in Dushanbe will prove to be an illuminating factor for enhanced trade linkages between Pakistan and Tajikistan and help in raising the living standards of the people of the two friendly countries.”
heRe is an emergent need for constituting a think-tank with the public-private partnership to evolve strategies for economic development of the country, the ICCI President, Yassar Sakhi Butt said Saturday. Addressing a function to mark 72nd Pakistan Day, he said the Government through continued dialogue process with the participation of public and private sector representatives, must evolve concrete solutions for sustainable development. he was of the view that the business community and the general public have gone under great stress due to shortage and acceleration of prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products, whereas sky rocketing prices of daily use items have made life of the common man miserable. At this critical situation, the government should react fast to save the country from going into more troubles and should start a thorough consultation process with all stakeholders, he maintained. Yassar Sakhi Butt said that through formation of think-tank with public private partnership, solution of a number of problems could be found. he said that researchers, chamber’s representatives, academia representatives and policy makers must be part of it, which should meet on regular basis to achieve the given tasks. he said that Government should learn lesson, specifically from China, which as per available figures is expecting to become the world largest economy by 2018. On contrary, our economy was showing unstable trends after even 66 years of its independence, he added. ICCI President said that the current business environment presents a depressing outlook and has stopped the process of industrialization and investments in many sectors. Government must develop strong coordination with a businessman to boost up their moral and confidence, announcing and implementing a sustainable and long term policies, he stressed. he said that Islamabad Chamber has developed its own think tank, which is working on core issues of national importance to give concrete solution to the government.
Why Portugal might not be the next Greece Economic connoisseurs consider Lisbon as good as gone in its debt crisis, but there are quite a few reasons that suggest otherwise KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID ITh Greece taking a nosedive into the deep waters of debt ridden oblivion, quite a few noises – most notably that of PIMCO CeO Mohamed el-erian – are touting Portugal as replicating the Greek tragedy and being “the next Greece” so to speak. even so, there are quite a few reasons to suggest otherwise, and there is every cause to believe that Portugal might eventually manage to get its finances under control. All the same, where this idea ranks along the wide scale between pessimism and delusion is very much up for debate. For starters the difference between those at the helm might prove to be decisive in the eventual fortunes of the two nations; Greece and Portugal. By juxtaposing Pedro Passos Coelho – the Portuguese Prime Minister – with his Greek counterpart, Lucas Papademos, one sees two
different ends of the judicious spectrum. The Portuguese prime minister is acknowledged as a conservative head of state, and has pushed through an austerity package and downed salaries to enhance the competition between the companies. he has also privatised state-owned enterprises and reduced unemployment benefits with the added façade of overtime payments and severance pay. The Portuguese premier has also curbed out ‘unnecessary holidays’, even though they were quite cherished by his citizens – like Corpus Christi and the Assumption Day – and the public holidays that celebrated Portugal’s separation from its union with Spain and in turn the declaration of its first republic. So, while the Portuguese are doing their best to get off their lazy backsides, why does the CeO of the world’s largest bond investor seem so certain about Portugal following Greece down the
aforementioned deep waters? For starters he believes Portugal’s first bailout package worth €78 billion ($103 billion), would prove insufficient and that the country would have to ask for more money. While, we don’t have quite as extolled crystal ball as the man himself there is a myriad of reasons that might give Portugal a cause for buoyancy. As a riposte the Portuguese prime minister and his thinktank have iterated their desire
of saving their country themselves, and avoiding aid at all costs. Whilst, there is a pungent sensation of déjà vu coming out of this Portuguese episode, reminiscent of the verbal jottings being thrown out in the open when Greece was traversing a similar period, one must consider the fact that the current bailout package is enough to take the country through to September 2013 – as expounded by the economic connoisseurs – giving the country a one and a half year time span to repairing
the fiscal wounds. It might just prove to be enough time to win back the trust of the financial markets and control interest rates on the government bonds, taking them to a level where self financing for Portugal becomes a veritable possibility. Further comparisons between Portugal and Greece, when the latter was in a similar scenario, also give the former the hope of recovery. Last year the Portuguese government managed to reduce its deficit from 9.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent of the GDP. Plus, quite contrary to the Greek scenario austerity measures in Portugal enjoy a wide majority of support in the parliament. There is also a higher level of awareness amongst the citizens in Portugal, with demonstrations against tax hikes and pay cuts surfacing – something that never happened in Greece. Another important facet that goes in Lisbon’s favour is the presence of competitive companies, which provide fuel to the country’s export sector. hence, while there is still a long way to travel before Portugal can finally dig itself out of this mess, there is still a considerable way to go as well till the white flag is raised in Lisbon. The nation is traversing a tough time, but it seems as if they are all in it together, vying to steer clear of the Greek footsteps that have divulged, exhaustively, what one must not be doing in fiscal crises. The writer is Sub-Editor, Pakistan Today. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Sunday, 25 March, 2012
Stocks rebound on energy sector, euro gains
he euro rose and world stocks rebounded on Friday, lifted by shares in energy and basic materials, as concerns about global growth were set aside by investors who saw further gains in this year’s rally. Commodity prices ticked higher on the belief a sell-off on Thursday, triggered by slower-than-expected manufacturing data from China and the euro zone, was overdone. Copper rebounded from a twoweek low the previous session, helped by a weaker dollar, falling inventories and an outlook for above-historical consumption levels from Chile’s Codelco, the world’s top producer. european shares trimmed losses and Wall Street rose on rebounding energy and material shares. Rising crude oil prices helped the energy sector. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 34.59 points, or 0.27 percent, at 13,080.73. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX rose 4.33 points, or 0.31 percent, at 1,397.11. The nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC added 4.60 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,067.92. Some investors are looking for a boost next week from quarter-end “windowdressing,” when fund managers drop poor-performing stocks and chase betterperforming ones to spruce up their holdings when they are published. “Overall, people feel good about stocks, so people want to jump in and buy on dips like we saw yesterday,” said Michael Matousek, senior trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc, which manages about $3 billion in San Antonio, Texas. “They’re afraid of missing the boat so they focus on things that have lagged.” An S&P index of energy shares .GSPe rose 1.0 percent while the S&P materials index .GSPM also added 1.0 percent. Caterpillar Inc. (CAT.n) rose 1.3 percent to $107.83, providing the biggest lift to the Dow. earlier, stocks fell after the Commerce Department said sales of new single-family homes slipped 1.6 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted
Quetta Express not quite living up to its name QUETTA INP
he passengers of different districts of Balochistan have expressed grave concern over temporarily suspending Quetta express after prolonged delay of trains. It should be mentioned here that Quetta-Peshawar Quetta express was stopped for indefinite time period due to non availability of engines and other reasons. Quetta railway station was already lacking train services due to which passengers were facing adverse situation. The two train services which were functional have also become troublesome for the travellers due to prolonged delay in arrival and departures. Pakistan Railways (PR) officials said Jaffar express is carrying few bogies of Quetta express as an immediate resort. They said that the train service would be resumed as soon as the engines would become available. It should be mentioned that trains between Quetta and interior Sindh, Mehran express and Abaseen express have already been stopped permanently.
SECP formulates Public Sector Companies Regulations 2012 ISLAMABAD
313,000-unit annual rate. January’s sales pace was revised down to 318,000 units from the previously reported 321,000 units. U.S. government debt prices rose for the fourth day in a row, reversing more of last week’s losses, as concerns about the economic picture in China and europe competed with improved U.S. employment for investors’ attention. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 13/32 in price to yield 2.24 percent. Some fear equity markets have gained too much in too short a time. The benchmark S&P 500 has gained more than 10 percent so far this year and almost 30 percent since its October lows. The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.3 percent, while the pan-european FTSeurofirst 300 .FTeU3 of top regional shares pared most losses to close down 0.01 percent at 1,079.42. The dollar has been supported by an improving U.S. economic picture that contrasts with the euro zone, where most economies are either teetering on the brink of or in recession. The euro was up 0.5 percent at $1.3267, and the U.S. Dollar Index
.DXY was down 0.5 percent at 79.317. The relationship between risk appetite and the dollar has become more complicated, according to Chris Fernandes, vice president and senior foreign exchange adviser for the capital markets division at Bank of the West in San Ramon, California. “Whereas in the past the dollar would tend to fall as risk appetite was rising, the dollar is now benefiting from pro-risk developments, as U.S. economic data has generally bested expectations recently,” he said. Brent oil settled up $1.99 at $125.13 a barrel, underpinned by worries that military conflict with will diminish supplies and create an oil price spike. U.S. light sweet crude oil rose $1.52 to settle at $106.87 a barrel. Gold rose more than 1 percent for its biggest one-day gain in a month, as higher crude prices and the dollar’s drop triggered short-covering after a sell-off earlier in the week. U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up $19.90 at $1,662.40 an ounce in moderate volume. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index .CRB of leading commodity prices was up 0.7 percent at 314.47.
Pak-Argentina pharma, leather cooperation LAHORE STAFF REPORT
ReSIDenT Business Forum Punjab (BFP) Ibrahim Qureshi has emphasized upon increase in bilateral trade between Pakistan and Argentina through joint ventures in sectors including pharmaceutical, leather and sports goods. he was delivering welcome address to the Argentinean Deputy head of Mission eduardo Bustamente during his visit to BFP on Thursday. Ibrahim said Pakistan exports have strong potential to grow in the Argentinean market, especially in the areas like leather goods, polo accessories, sports goods (Footballs) and fashion clothing. Further, he pointed out that Ferozsons Pakistan has successfully set up BF Bio Sciences, Pakistan’s first Bio Technology Plant in collaboration with BAGO Pharmaceuticals Argentina to prepare medication for hepatitis C and Cancer patients in Pakistan. Ibrahim further said that existing trade volume with Argentina was highly en-
couraging, which could be improved further with increase in bilateral trade. According to him, the art and culture was another area where both Pakistan and Argentina can tap the potential and strengthen bilateral relations further. Speaking on the occasion, the Argentinean Deputy head of Mission eduardo Bustamente said the purpose of his visit to BFP was to promote bilateral relations with Pakistani businessmen and look for investment opportunities towards Pakistan. he said Argentina has been benefiting from Pakistani products and considering seriously of promoting bilateral trade and investment with the help of forums like BFP. he agreed with the idea of JVs between the businessmen of two sides and assured of full cooperation from the Argentinean embassy in this regard. he also appreciated the leadership of BFP for providing an effective platform to domestic and international businesses for mutual benefits of two sides. he said the BFP projects are of high importance in promoting Punjab as a next economic and investment hub of Pakistan.
n order to improve the governance framework of public sector companies, the Securities and exchange Commission of Pakistan (SeCP) has formulated the draft Public Sector Companies Regulations2012. These draft regulations have principally been based upon the Code of Corporate Governance, which has been customized in the context of public sector companies. Public sector companies operating in corporate form, which are directly or indirectly owned and controlled by the government, whether federal, provincial or local. These regulations have been designed in view of the distinct governance challenges faced by the public sector companies in Pakistan. The inefficiency of such companies is choking the economy and draining fiscal resources, necessitating urgent restructuring of their operations. Various recommendations have been made in the draft regulations aimed at optimizing the efficiency, enhancing the transparency in operations, and providing a mechanism for accountability of those charged with governance. The Federal Government had constituted a Cabinet Committee on
Restructuring of public sector companies in January 2010 to improve their overall corporate governance and service delivery, and to move to a structural surplus and increased public sector savings. Subsequently, in October 2011 the Federal Government formed a task force on corporate governance of public sector companies with the mandate to examine the prospects of developing a regulatory mechanism for improving the governance of public sector companies and enhancing board effectiveness and empowerment through a range of measures. The measures to improve the governance of public sector companies include undertaking board composition reforms by including a certain number of independent non-executive directors on the boards of such companies, ensuring continuity in the tenure of board members, separating the roles of chairman and chief executive, forming specialized board committees, undertaking training and capacity building of the board members, strengthening the internal control mechanism, augmenting the disclosure and transparency requirements, and undertaking periodic performance evaluation of the board members, etc.
WAPDA Endowment Fund for sports LAHORE: Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has selected 53 young players after completion of a series of trials, conducted in the length and breadth of the country, for the second batch of WAPDA endowment Fund for Sports, established for elevating the standards of sports in Pakistan. The players – 10 to 14 years of age – have been selected from the whole country in nine games including athletics, boxing, football, hockey, karate, swimming, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling. WAPDA Member (Water) Syed Raghib Abbas Shah distributed the selection/ scholarship certificates among the selected players in a ceremony held here at WAPDA house today. WAPDA Secretary Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar, Managing Director (Administration) Muhammad Zafar, senior officers of WAPDA and students of WAPDA schools were also present in the ceremony. WAPDA endowment Fund for Sports was established in 2010 with an initial amount of Rs. 100 million with the prime objective to arrange regular financing sources to provide sports facilities to the youth with an ultimate aim to enhance medal tally of Pakistan in international competitions. In addition to imparting sports training and coaching by WAPDA Sports Board, Rs. 5000/- monthly scholarship for extra diet and education is also awarded to each selected player from WAPDA endowment Fund for
Sports. Besides, free-of-the-cost medical and transport facilities are also provided to the players. Speaking on the occasion, the Member (Water) expressed the hope that the players selected under WAPDA endowment Fund for Sports would bring laurels not only to WAPDA in the national competitions but also to Pakistan in the international arena. he reiterated that WAPDA would continue playing its significant role for promotion of sports in Pakistan. earlier, WAPDA Managing Director Muhammad Zafar briefed the audience about the scheme and its achievements so far. he said that six players of the first batch represented Pakistan in international competitions vis football and Karate and won medals for the country. Apart from distributing selection/scholarship letters among the players of the second batch, cash awards were also given to the six players of the first batch who won medals in the international competitions. PRESS RELEASE
Automation can bailout limping economy: FPCCI ISLAMABAD
UTOMATIOn is the only way to ensure trade facilitation and bring country out of fiscal mess, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said Saturday. The Government is facing a revenue shortfall of around 30 billion while inflows from coalition support fund and 3G auction remains doubtful, said Tariq Mahmood, Chairman FPCCI Standing Committees on
Pharmaceuticals and Law and Order. The worrisome situation may deteriorate further until automation is introduced which can help put economy back on track, he said. Talking to women entrepreneurs at Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI), he said that movement of goods should be improved to reduce cost, maximise efficiency, and boost forex reserves as well as tax collections. Tariq Mahmood who is also President Attock Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said rollback of Pakistan
Automated Customs Computerised System (PaCCS) has complicated the overall process hurting business community and tax collections. he said that reintroduction of semiautomatic and manual clearance procedures was a blow to the trade facilitation efforts which is resulting in delays, penalties, lost business opportunities and reduced competitiveness. Improvement of transport infrastructure, eradication of corruption, modernization of customs administration, removal of non-
tariff trade barriers, and other operational improvements should feature high on government’s agenda to boost economic activity, he demanded. On the occasion, Samina Fazil, founder President IWCCI said that she is receiving complaints from importers after PaCCS was replaced with faulty Web Based One Customs (WeBOC). The undependable software installed on terminals will pave way for losses, illegal payments and frauds, she said. Samina Fazil said that collection is mainly based on imports and
exports which must be facilitated. Total revenues have fallen from 18 per cent of the GDP to 10 per cent during last two decades which shows that efforts to improve taxation and collections have backfired, she said. FBR continue to shift burden to poor, all measures remained figure-oriented and the fiscal deficit may cross Rs 1800 billion this year, said Samina. Absence of automation will lead to lack of transparency and the collectors will continue to milk the poor to realize unrealistic targets, she said