Healthy competition among

automakers to improve quality

ISLAMABAD (NNI): President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) and senior vice chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said government has preferred interests of masses in the new auto policy. The new auto policy will lure European investment which will trigger healthy competition among automakers that will improve quality and reduce prices, he said. Mian Zahid Hussain lauded the decision of the government to allow tax breaks and import duty relaxations to new entrants to attract investment which will tackle issues like frustration of consumers, poor quality of cars, and lack of driver’s safety, obsolete technology and unjustified annual price hike.

He said that three Japanese automakers are working in the country that have failed to focus on anything but profits which resulted in low quality product and unsatisfactory localisation that could have saved foreign exchange and provided jobs.

The situation turned against the interests of consumers and tilted heavily towards automakers which prompted the government to take decision to lure European automakers which will result in healthy competition.

He said that local automakers are too much focused on profits which has resulted in smuggling of vehicles worth billions and import of old models of cars which are regarded as superior than the local brands by consumers.

Government asked to improve

exports, tax collection

KARACHI (NNI): The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Monday said government should improve exports and tax collection to keep deficit in limits as scaling down developmental budget by 24 percent in not in the national interest. External sector should get attention it deserves while tax net should be broadened and smuggling should be contained, said Abdul Rauf Alam, President FPCCI. In a statement, he said that refunds worth billions should be immediately released and textile sector should be preferred in it as it’s the backbone of the economy. He said that trade relaxations will only work if the export environment is enabled which require provision of sustainable and low cost energy.

The FPCCI president said that low oil prices and remittances have helped country a lot but development is linked to exports otherwise forex reserves will come under pressure.

Oil prices slip as Doha

meeting looms

LONDON (AFP): Crude prices dipped Monday following last week's gains, as traders looked ahead to an upcoming meeting of oil majors they hope will lead to output limits. Around 1145 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May added $1.39 to $38.65 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June delivery won $1.33 to $40.76 a barrel compared with Friday's close. The oil market had rebounded last week on supportive US figures, with both contracts winning eight percent or more in value. Data showing US stockpiles and output had seen a surprise fall provided some much needed impetus, with a fall in the number of rigs drilling also providing strong support.

Dealers are keenly awaiting the next stockpiles report due Wednesday hoping for a further fall, which would indicate a pick-up in demand.

However, the key focus is now on the April 17 meeting in Doha, where most of the world's top producers led by Russia and Saudi Arabia will discuss global oversupply.

A chronic worldwide supply glut sent oil prices collapsing by three quarters between August 2014 and February this year.

"There are clearly increased hopes again that the meeting of oil producers in Doha next Sunday will produce a substantial result after all," said Commerzbank analyst Cartsten Fritsch in a research note to clients.

"The Russian oil minister for instance continues to hope for an agreement on production caps.

"We are sceptical about this... There is thus a risk of a price correction if the market is disappointed by the outcome of the meeting."

While there is a growing expectation the Doha meeting will see signatories agree to a production freeze at January 2016 levels, analysts remain uncertain of the long-term impact of such a deal.

Margaret Yang, an analyst with CMC Markets in Singapore, said that a production cut, not a freeze, would be more effective in boosting oil prices.

"Currently, production of those countries are at historical highs. Even though they can come up with a consensus to freeze the production at current levels, it doesn't help," Yang told AFP.

"If they can come up with a conclusion to reduce production, that would be more meaningful."

FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga cautioned that oil prices would continue to languish at ultra-low levels.

"The fundamentals of an unrelenting oversupply should keep prices depressed," Otunuga said.

"Even if theoretically production is frozen, Iran continues to boost output."

The oil glut has worsened in recent months because of the return of Iranian crude to world markets -- after years of economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted following a nuclear deal last year.

PR earns over Rs81m by leasing out rail land in KP

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Pakistan Railways has earned Rs81.724m by leasing out unutilized land of the railway available on Mardan-Dargai section, KPK for various purposes during the last five years. The railway land was leased out on both the short and long term basis, official sources in the Ministry of Railways told state-rune media. Giving break-up, they said, the land was leased out for agriculture at Rs 0.204m, parking at Rs0.29m, stacking at Rs2.44m and tehbazari at Rs6.45m. The lease included shops at Rs1.96m, cattle fares at Rs0.64m, row for the construction of flyover at Takht Bhai at Rs 0.55 million, buildings at Rs2.715m and goods shed at Rs2.937 million besides giving land for other commercial activities at Rs 63.536 million.

The available railway land is leased out in a transparent manner through open public auction by fixing bench mark/reserve price of auction after evaluation, they added.

They said the entire section between Mardan-Dargai Railway Stations was free from any unauthorized occupation and encroachments.

In case of any temporary encroachments like hand carts, wheel barrows etc these are immediately handled effectively by carrying out clean-up operations in coordination with the District Administration, the sources said.

Rs 400.8b released for

development projects

ISLAMABAD (NNI): The government has so far released over Rs400.880 billion for different social sector development projects under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2015-16 against the total allocations of Rs 700 billion earmarked for the current fiscal year. According to the latest data of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, the government released Rs 64.049 billion for infrastructure development projects of National Highway Authority (NHA) against its total allocation of Rs 159.6 billion for FY 2015-16. Similarly Rs 94.32 billion have been released for WAPDA Power Sector for which the government has allocated an amount of Rs.113.896 billion for the current fiscal year.

A sum of Rs 16.038 billion has been released for Water and Power Division (Power Sector) for its various projects for building the water reservoirs against its total allocations of Rs 30.120 billion in federal PSDP 2015-16.