Oil extends rebound as Kuwait strike enters third day

LONDON (AFP): Oil prices recovered further on Tuesday as a strike by Kuwaiti petroleum workers entered its third day, outweighing disappointment over the failure of weekend talks to freeze output. Prices had plunged early Monday soon after news that Sunday’s long-awaited meeting of major producers in Doha had collapsed, fanning worries about a persistent global oversupply. However, the losses were pared through the day on news that thousands of workers in the Kuwaiti oil sector had started industrial action over planned wage cuts. Just before 1100 GMT on Tuesday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in May rose 62 cents to $40.40 per barrel.

European benchmark Brent crude for June delivery won 75 cents to $43.66.

Kuwait — the fourth largest producer in the OPEC exporters’ cartel — revealed on Tuesday that it had managed to restore some affected production at its state oil firm.

Kuwait Petroleum Corp’s spokesman Sheikh Talal Khaled Al-Sabah said output was now running at 1.5 million barrels per day — 50 percent of normal output — against 1.1 million bpd when the strike first erupted on Sunday.

Sheikh Khaled said a crude gathering centre in the north of the emirate had been put back into production and that the company had plans to reopen three more.

He did not specify how they were being staffed but on Sunday the cabinet gave orders for KPC to recruit contractors from abroad to operate some of its facilities in defiance of the indefinite strike called by the Kuwait oil workers union over planned wage cuts.

Analysts said the strike might only have a temporary effect on the market.

“The strike is a potential positive. But at this stage, it appears that this (Kuwait strike) may be resolved pretty quickly and so the overall interruption would not be large,” CMC Markets analyst Michael McCartney told AFP from Sydney.

Oil prices had rebounded last week on hopes that major producers — including the biggest two, Russia and Saudi Arabia — would agree to freeze output at January levels.

But Saudi Arabia’s decision not to take part unless bitter rival Iran also joined in torpedoed any hopes of a deal. Iran had said it would not agree to any caps having just returned to the export market after years of Western nuclear-linked sanctions.

Analysts said the focus will now shift to a key OPEC meeting in June.

Meanwhile, Iran will not accept an oil output freeze because it would effectively mean a prolonging of sanctions, its oil minister declared Tuesday, insisting rival producers caused a supply-led price slide.

Tehran has been pumping more crude since sanctions were lifted on January 16 under its nuclear deal with major powers, aiming to regain market share lost in recent years but adding to a global glut.

OPEC cartel member Iran did not send a representative to Doha and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh’s comments underlined why Tehran sees no justification for changing its stance.

“Accepting a production freeze in practice amounts to a voluntary acceptance of sanctions by our country after years of effort to have them lifted,” state television quoted Zanganeh as saying.

“A freeze by Iran at January 2016 production levels would mean that sanctions are not lifted and Iran’s exports would be stabilised at the sanctions level.”

Sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme, which saw the OPEC cartel-member return to world oil markets and increase exports to around two million barrels per day, up from just over one million bpd previously.

SECP issues draft clearing houses regulations for comments

ISLAMABAD (Staff Reporter): The SECP has invited public comments on the draft Clearing Houses (Licensing and Operations) Regulations, 2016, and for this purpose, has published the said regulations in the official gazette. The regulations have also been disseminated among various prominent stakeholders for consultation purposes. Comments received on the regulations within 15 days will be considered and evaluated. As required under the Securities Act, 2015, the draft regulations provide for matters relating to licensing, duties and obligations of clearing house, requirements relating to audit and accounts, appointment and conduct of directors, chief executive officer, chief regulatory officer and chief risk officer, fit and proper criteria for directors and senior management officers etc.

Under the draft regulations, the financial resource requirements for a clearing house are proposed to be increased to an adequate level, given the critical functions being performed by a clearing house. For good governance, shareholding criteria has been specified for a clearing house besides requiring the clearing house to appoint one-third independent directors on its board and constitute risk committee to supervise its risk management operations.

Among other requirements, the clearing house is being made responsible for setting up settlement guarantee fund, obtaining default insurance cover, putting in place robust risk management system and ensuring data secrecy and security. The clearing house has to make adequate arrangements for resolving disputes and redressal of grievances of customers.

Govt admits PSEs privatisation a big challenge

ISLAMABAD (INP): M Zubair, Minister of State for Privatisation and Chairman Privatization Commission of Pakistan, Tuesday said that the govt was making sincere efforts for privatising loss-making public sector enterprises (PSEs) as it was spending around Rs600b annually to keep them running, but their privatisation was a big challenge due to complicated privatisation process, opposition of political parties and many other factors. He expressed these views while addressing business community at ICCI on Tuesday, He said that political parties, media and other stakeholders should support the privatisation of loss making PSEs as it was in the national interest to privatise them instead of reforming them which was a long-term process.

He said a strong Privatisation Commission with independent decision making powers was needed to implement government’s privatisation program. He said currently 69 PSEs were on the privatisation list.

He said PSEs were established to provide good quality services to the public, but they have failed to deliver and had become a drain on the national exchequer, so it was necessary to privatise them. He said the privatisation process was quite lengthy as minimum two years were required to privatise a PSE. He said government has to take some unpopular and tough decisions to put the country on the path of better economic growth. He stressed that private sector should come up with some good proposals on privatisation and assured that he would try to implement their proposals that would be in the best national interest.

In his welcome address, Atif Ikram Sheikh, president Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that loss making public sector organisations including Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan International Airlines and Railways etc. were a big burden on the national exchequer as the government was paying billions of rupees every year to bailout them.

He said instead of providing billions of rupees to loss making PSEs, government should prefer to spend this amount on development projects and public welfare works as there was no justification to spend taxpayers’ money on keeping loss making entities afloat. He said such organisations may be privatised so that they could be transformed into profit earning entities and could play a positive role in the economic development of the country as well.

He stressed that government in consultation with business leaders should devise a new privatisation strategy and introduce best business practices in loss making entities. He said government could induct successful and experienced professionals from the private sector in the management of PSEs to turn them into revenue generating entities. Sheikh Pervez Ahmed Senior Vice President ICCI, Sheikh Tariq Sadiq, Khalid Javed, Mian Akram Farid, Zahid Maqbool and others also spoke at the occasion and stressed for privatisation of lossmaking PSEs.

Zameen.com Property Expo

LAHORE (PR): Zameen.com, Pakistan’s largest real estate portal, will hold the Zameen.com Property Expo 2016 (Karachi) at the Palm Marquee on April 23 and 24, 2016. Prominent real estate developers and agents, such as Royal Group, Orbit Developers and Summit Group, will come in direct contact with realty enthusiasts and property seekers from around the city for a weekend of productive interactions. “We are really excited as this is Karachi’s first real estate event of this kind,” said Zameen.com CEO Zeeshan Ali Khan. “Our unwavering goal is, and has always been, to be the authority on all things real estate in Pakistan. As the country’s most loved property website, it is our responsibility to serve the industry as best as we can and our expos are extremely beneficial for clients and visitors alike.”

Termed a ‘family affair’, the expo will have a food court and a children’s play area. As there is no entry fee, anyone with even a remote interest in real estate is welcome.

This expo comes just days after the Zameen.com Property Expo 2016 (Islamabad) which saw an impressive footfall of 35,000 people.

The Zameen.com Property Expo has been a regular event since 2013 and is steadily growing in popularity. More than 45,000 people attended the 2015 event in Lahore and almost 100 deals were struck on the spot.

Furniture Expo from 22nd

KARACHI (PR): Pakistan Furniture Council’s Furniture Expo will be held here at Karachi Expo Centre from 22nd to 24th April. Chief Minister Sindh will inaugurate three-day Expo. Mian Muhammad Kashif Ashfaq, CEO of the PFC and ChenONE, announced that PFC is organizing the 5th Interiors Pakistan exhibition in Karachi the first time. Interiors Pakistan is an opportunity for the largest furniture companies and interior designers in Pakistan to display their products. The Council expects that there will 100,000 to 150,000 visitors at the Expo. He said, “The vision behind Interiors Pakistan is to create a space for furniture display and promotion across the country. The national exhibitions groom local producers to access the international markets and increase their potential markets.”