Federal government announces final deadline for PIA privatisation

Federal government announces final deadline for PIA privatisation

ISLAMABAD - Minister for Privatization, Daniyal Aziz Monday said the government was committed to finalize privatization process of core business of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) before April 15.

Addressing a press conference here, the minister made it clear that the government will sell only core business relating to management and flight operation of the national flag carrier, whereas all other properties would remain in custody of the government.

The government was also planning to establish another company under which all the fixed assets of PIA would be managed, he said.

Daniyal ensured that during privatization process, all legal rights and monetary benefits of the employees of the airlines would be fully protected.

Daniyal Aziz said according to PIA Amendment Bill (2016) that was adopted unanimously by the Parliament, the government was bound to complete the process by April, 15 this year.

He said PIA had been in loss for decades and a huge burden on the national kitty, therefore agenda of divesting the national airlines had always been on top of the list of every government.

Regarding total losses of the airlines, the minister informed that up to March 2017 total losses were recorded at Rs325 billion.

He said he would closely monitor the whole process and would ensured complete transparency in the privatization process in the larger interest of the country.

He said the privatization process would be highly beneficial for the country and the people as it would not only help overcoming huge losses to the national kitty but the people would enjoy more competitive flights with state-of-the-art international facilities.

Due to loss making State-Owned Entities (SOEs), the country was facing a huge loss of over Rs600 billion annually for last three decades, he said adding, had this amount spent on the development sectors at gross root level, the country would be competing the developed countries like Singapore.

“We are planning to make Pakistan an Asian Tiger, however in the presence of such bleeding SOEs, the country’s economic growth can not be sustained for long time and its huge chunk of resource would be utilized to cover losses of such entities,” he remarked.

Daniyal Aziz informed that privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) was also intact as its operation was closed for last three and half years and the government had to pay billions of rupees in term of salaries and pensions. He said after taking over the charge of the ministry, he helped releasing four months of salaries to the PSM employees besides he was also working to clear dues of the retired employees.

However, he said this process could not be run for long time and at one stage the mills would have to be resolved.

He said due to closure of PSM, the government was also facing huge loss of import bill as a massive quantity of steel was being imported to complete projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The minister said the privatization process would indeed be blessing in disguise for the country and its people as with this process, more investment would come to the country and business activities would further be increased which would ultimately increase employment opportunities especially for young people.

Replying to a query, he said there were numerous success stories of privatizing the SOEs, such as Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation (PTCL) which had helped bringing revolution in the country’s telecom sector.

He said with the divestment of PTCL, not only its standard had improved but also it helped to create a healthy atmosphere of competition which helped provision of quality services at affordable price. To another question regarding payment of dues of US$ 850 million to the federal government by Etisalat, the minister hoped that the issue would be resolved soon as Etisalat had agreed for valuation of non-transferable properties of PTCL.