Senate body discusses LNG import

KARACHI (APP): Senate Standing Committee for Petroleum and Natural Resources Tuesday discussed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import and the capacity of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).  The meeting was presided over by Senate panel's chairman Senator Muhammad Yousuf at the SSGC office here. In the briefing, SSGC Managing Director Khalid Rehman said that an agreement about LNG services has been reached between Engro Energy Terminal and SSGC. He said that the first phase of this agreement will take effect from March 30 and continue for 15 years.  The Managing Director said the SSGC will enhance its capacity to expand its network for an additional 200 mmcfd gas.

The committee members senators Dr. Muhammad Jahangir Badar, Rozi Khan Kakar, Rubina Irfan, Tanvir-ul-Haq Thanvi and Hamza attended the meeting.

DMD SSGC Shoaib Warsi, Fayyaz Marchant and other senior gas utility officials were also present.

3G, 4G users reach 7.69m mark

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Tuesday announced that 3G and 4G users have reached 7.69 million mark by December last year, showing a reasonable growth for next generation mobile services with each passing month. The number of 4G users, a speedy mobile broadband service, is only 2242 by December last as 4G is introduced by only two operators Zong and Warid which are introducing packages to woo more subscribers in days to come. As per latest statistics issued by regulator, the number of both 3G and 4G services was 5.78 million in November last but attractive packages introduced by all operators made possible to raise 1.91 million more such users in only one month.

The number of such users was 4.73 million in October last year, 3.69 in September 2014, 3.062 million in August and in July last year the number was 1.9 million.

PTA had previously reported 6.37 million 3G users till the end of December 2014.

The data further revealed that Telenor leads the market with 2.26 million 3G users till end of December 2014. Ufone is suddenly at number two position with 1.95 million subscribers while Mobilink stands third with its 1.79 million subscribers and Zong is ranked fourth with its 1.66 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, official sources said the Authority is working on a framework with an aim to have more than 79 million 3G users by 2025 to make its ways to top 10 markets with mobile broadband in the world.

SBP urged to resolve KASB issue

LAHORE (APP): All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association (APPMA) Tuesday demanded of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to resolve the issue of KASB Bank on emergent basis as depositors are in deep trouble due to seizing of their accounts. The APPMA leaders Khawaja Nadeem Saeed Wain, Khamis Saeed Butt and Muhammad Ajmal, in a joint statement here, said that most of the account holders of KASB Bank were business doing people and after seizing of their account, they were facing massive financial crunch. The APPMA leaders urged the State Bank of Pakistan Governor to revisit the affairs of all other smaller banks that failed to increase their capital according to its (SBP) regulations.

Khawaja Nadeem Saeed Wain urged the Federal Finance Minister to take notice of the situation and worries of KASB Bank account holders and ensure early reimbursement of their deposited amounts.

Oil prices inch higher in Asia

SINGAPORE (AFP):  Oil prices edged up in Asia Tuesday following an upbeat outlook by key producer Kuwait, while investors are keeping tabs on Greece's troubled debt talks with its creditors. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery rose 44 cents to $53.22, while Brent crude for April gained 68 cents to $62.08 in afternoon trade. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said late Monday he was confident of reaching a deal with the eurozone on overhauling the country's unpopular debt bailout programme in two days, despite crunch talks collapsing.  The new anti-austerity Greek govt is aiming to win a six-month reprieve so it can renegotiate the terms of its 240b euro bailout, which it says has damaged the economy.

But its 18 eurozone partners, led by Germany, insist that any change to austerity terms must be within the current programme, which Athens refuses to continue.

"If no deal is reached, another emergency meeting will reportedly be held on Thursday," said London-based research house Capital Economics.

"But the two parties will surely need to publish a statement implying that some progress has been made in the meantime if they are to avoid a more adverse market reaction and convince the European Central Bank to allow Greek banks continued access to ... funds," it added in a commentary.

Analysts said dealers were also digesting comments by Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair that world crude prices have recovered "faster" than expected and recent gains will likely hold.

"I think it will last... it started holding gains now and hopefully, in the second part of 2015, we will see better prices," Omair told reporters Monday.

Kuwait, a member of the OPEC cartel, is the world's 10th largest petroleum producer.

Crude has been on a rollercoaster for the past two weeks after prices fell by around 60 percent between June and January.

Market sentiment has been bolstered by cuts in output by North American shale producers that have raised expectations of a reduction in the current supply glut.

British minister calls on Afridi

ISLAMABAD (APP):  British Minister for Cabinet Office and Paymaster, General Rt Hon Francis Maude on Tuesday called on Federal Minister for textile industry, Abbas Khan Afridi. British High Commissioner, Philip Barton, Secretary Textiles, Amir Marwat and other officials from British High Commission and Ministry of textile industry were also present in the meeting. The minister apprised the British Minister of the potential of the textile sector of Pakistan, said a statement issued here. The federal minister said that the textile sector is one of the most important industrial sectors of the country. It is not only the highest foreign exchange earner and also provides employment to 40pc of total industrial workforce of the country.

sssslDue to its importance, the government has always been taking measures aimed at textiles sector's promotion and development through various support schemes, policy interventions and capacity building.

Afridi was of the view that Textile Policy 2014-19 would address the issues of all the sub-sectors of value-chain by laying down a comprehensive plan for the sustainable growth for the next five years.

The minister reiterated that we aim to double the exports to $26 billion by 2019.

"It may appear ambitious that only value addition to 13 million bales per annum that we produce can easily help us achieve the desired target".

The Minister expressed his resolve for the full utilization of the GSP-plus status.

The Minister admitted that provision of uninterrupted energy remains an issue, but the government is tackling the energy crisis quite well.

The Minister said that public-private partnership initiative for labour law compliance between ILO and PTEA would result in enhanced compliance to international standards.

This would help to maintain GSP-plus status as well as enhance business productivity and sustainability.

The partnership agreement includes a comprehensive framework on improving industrial relations through training and compliance with International Labour Standards that include occupational safety and health, wages, nature of employment, discrimination, forms of mal labour practices and strengthening employers' and workers' organizations in garment and textile industry.

Minister Afridi had a detailed discussion on FATA with the British minister.

He highlighted that mega projects like universities, vocational training institutes, infrastructure development are mandatory for FATA uplift.

FATA Reforms Committee under the guidance of governor KPK is working diligently on the reforms and will come up with workable and effective recommendations soon.

The British cabinet minister hailed the initiatives being taken by the government of Pakistan and Ministry of textile industry for textile sector's development and sustainability. He assured full support and cooperation of British government in areas of mutual interest.