ISLAMABAD: The incoming government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) plans to revive loss-making or under-performing state-owned enterprises (SoEs) to fetch a healthy prices for their privatisations. In addition, the heads of some regulatory bodies are likely to be replaced with professionals.

The new government’s prime focus would be on strengthening the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) with the appointment of two new commissioners as its capital markets are considered among the best options to raise money.

“One of them is likely to be a former commissioner of SECP but currently there are no plans to change its chairman,” said an official of the SECP who has been close to the party during the elections.

With the help of foreign professionals, PTI has serious considerations to develop ‘debt market’ in the country, the source added.

Sources close to the top PTI leadership told Dawn that several trusted individuals are arriving in the country to extend their support in restructuring efforts of the new government.

“The secret to the success of ‘industrial revival plan’ of PTI is to appoint professional to head this venture,” the source said, adding the party was using its good office abroad to invite Pakistanis who have worked at senior positions in conglomerates and multinationals.

“Serious discussions were held in this regard at a dinner held by Mr Munir Kamal last week in Karachi and the invitation has already been extended to professionals who are currently living abroad,” the source confided.

Among those who attended dinner included MNA-elect from Islamabad Asad Umar who is also considered to be the finance minister in the upcoming government. Leaked footages of the gathering shows Mr Umar highlighting future plans to deal with the loss making public sector enterprises.

“These entities have been bleeding the economy with around Rs1,100 billion loss and the top of the list includes the Pakistan Steel Mills. The problem in SOEs is not due to over staffing or cost of labour but because of politicised government officers who were managing these units,” Mr Umar said.

He highlighted the new government will create a ‘Wealth Fund’ and all sick units will be shifted under this department. He stressed the move has been successful in many countries including Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, sources in the PTI said the wealth fund or any other name will be operated by professionals, “most of whom are likely to be the PTI supporters abroad who had been raising funds for the party too.”

At the same time the PTI government has eyes in reforming the tax collecting body – FBR and along with it changes are expected in SECP, State Bank and the National Bank of Pakistan too.

Though there are suggestions to appoint Mr Munir Kamal as head of any of these institutions due to his vast banking experience but the idea has been turned down.

“Munir Kamal meets all the criteria and has a history of clean hands but the issue is that he is the elder brother of Asad Umar and his appointment will invite unnecessary political criticism,” said a senior office bearer of PTI.

Regarding National Bank, the party policy is to allow Mr Saeed Ahmed to continue up to January 2019 when his tenure ends if he is cleared in cases pending against him in the NAB court.

Meanwhile, talking to Dawn, Mr Asad Umar said, “It is not essential that the heads of regulatory bodies will be changed but those who were not performing well or had other issues will obviously be changed.”

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2018

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