Cabinet Committee meeting of SoEs held in Islamabad

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Cabinet Committee meeting of SoEs held in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD-Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on the State-owned Enterprises was held in Islamabad today (Wednesday) with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

It discussed the governance reforms on the state-owned enterprises and the reconstitution of the Board of Directors of Sarmaya-i-Pakistan Limited.

The meeting decided to set up a sub-committee headed by Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar to study the status and implementation of the recommendations of Task Force on Austerity and Government Restructuring Report on restructuring and reorganization of the federal government.

Earlier, the meeting was informed by the Ministry of Finance that around 85 commercial SOEs were working under the administrative control of 19 federal ministries and divisions but the overall performance of the SOEs had remained unsatisfactory despite considerable financial support provided by the federal government from time to time.

The meeting was further informed that during FY2017-18 an amount of 143 billion rupees was provided to various SOEs as subsidies, 204 billion rupees as cash development loan, 27 billion rupees as equity injection and Government of Pakistan guarantees amounting to 318 billion rupees were issued. Despite such a large support, the SOEs sector as a whole registered net losses of 265 billion rupees.

The Ministry of Finance in its presentation attributed the poor performance of the SOEs to various factors, particularly redundancies and duplications, a completely decentralized governance framework with lack of inter-agency coordination, excessive interference and over-regulation by multiple government agencies and lack of technical expertise and specialized skills in the line ministries for the management of commercial COEs.

The Ministry of Finance also briefed the meeting on various steps taken for reforms and improvement in the SOEs governance framework, including Sarmaya-i-Pakistan and structural benchmarks agreed with the international financial institutions. It further updated the members of the Committee of legal framework being developed for the liquidation, privatization and retention under the government ownership on the basis of economic rationale and financial performance of SOEs.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain briefed the meeting on the gist of proposals of the Task Force on Austerity and Government Restructuring Report on restructuring and reorganization of the federal government.

He opined that the Task Force's proposals which had already been approved by the federal cabinet and were being implemented at different levels by the federal government could be a starting point for the meeting to see and decide which SOEs were to be privatized, which to be liquidated, wound up or closed down and which were to be reorganized and retained by the government or merged with other entities.

The meeting appreciated the work done by Dr. Ishrat Hussain and his team and decided to constitute a team led by Minister for Industries and Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar to study the status and implementation of the recommendations of Task Force on Austerity and Government Restructuring Report on restructuring and reorganization of the federal government and report to the CCoSOEs in its next meeting to be held soon.