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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to allow privatisation of 49 per cent shares (core business related to management and flight operations) of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

It also took important decisions about the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

These decisions were taken at a meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Proposal to increase power loadshedding duration in summer rejected

According to a statement issued by a PM’s spokesperson, the cabinet has ratified recommendations of the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) in its meeting held on Feb 22 and the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP) in its meeting held on Feb 16.

The recommendations reportedly included privatisation of the PIA and PSM.

The government has already turned the national flag carrier into a public limited company, known as PIACL, in 2016. Under the PIAC Act, 2016, the government is bound to complete the privatisation process by April 15 this year.

The Privatisation Commission has worked out a restructuring and implementation plan, outlining segregation of the core and non-core businesses of PIACL. A corporate and financial restructuring of the PIACL has also been prepared and now will be implemented by April this year as stipulated by the PIAC (Conversion) Act, 2016.

On the issue of the PSM’s privatisation, the CCOP discussed the Privatisation Commission’s proposal for entering into a ‘concession’ agreement with investors, on a revenue sharing basis in the Feb 16 meeting. How­ever, the prime minister asked the Privatisation Commission that all options should be explored and a comprehensive plan should also be worked out for addressing employee-related issues.

Power loadshedding

Perhaps keeping in view the forthcoming general election in the country, the cabinet rejected the proposal for increasing the duration of power loadshedding in high line losses areas and decided to provide uninterrupted power supply to them in summer, particularly during the holy month of Ramazan.

According to the PM’s spokesperson, Mr Abbasi told the meeting that the government had no intention to carry out loadshedding in summer. He quoted the PM as saying: “Provision of uninterrupted power supply has remained the priority of the present government in order to meet domestic, commercial and industrial requirements.”

Mr Abbasi said as a result of untiring efforts of the government there had been a significant increase in power generation in the country since 2013.

The spokesperson said the cabinet had expressed satisfaction over the situation and resolved to provide uninterrupted power to consumers in summer.

The secretary of power division briefed the meeting on projections of electricity demand and supply and the available generation capacity for catering to the power requirements in summer, particularly during Ramazan.

It was informed that additional power would be added to the national grid from Tarbela-IV and Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-Power projects during next month which would further augment the existing generation capacity.

The meeting was briefed on the current load management plan as the power division told the PM that it wanted to revise electricity loadshedding plan by increasing power breakdowns in 15 per cent areas of the country where line losses were more than 30 per cent. Under the proposed schedule, the loadshedding’s duration was to be increased from the present four hours a day to 8-12 hours.

The secretary sought the opinion of the cabinet whe­ther the government could afford more loadshedding in high line losses areas, especially when general elections are approaching.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2018