The government is initiating a programme to privatise a number of public institutions to make them profitable, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference, flanked by Minister for Privatisation Mohammad Mian Soomro and Secretary Privatisation Commission Rizwan Malik, Awan said that Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) laws and court orders are going to be kept in mind in the process of privatisation, as per Prime Minister Imran Khan's 2018 vision.
Adding to Awan's remarks, Soomro said, "A strategic cell (for privatisation) has been created in the country after a lapse of 10 years. The privatisation commission is based on the prime minister's 2018 vision."
He said the government was expecting to earn Rs150 billion non-tax revenue from the privatisation of six loss-making public sector entities (PSEs) by June 30. They include Sind Engineering, SME Bank, Guddu Power Plant, Pakistan Steel Mills, First Women Bank Limited and Jinnah Convention Centre.
Soomro said the world's renowned companies, including those from Japan, Thailand, Korea and Malaysia, were participating in the privatisation process, which showed restoration of their confidence in the government's policies for investment in the country.
According to the minister, the government also intended to sell out around 27 public real-estate properties which will be put up for auction within two months.
"There are five federal government properties in Lahore which will be used to make cheap housing available to the public," Soomro told the news conference.
He said the government had initially decided to privatise those state-owned entities which were running in losses. In the second phase, the government will focus on entities which have the ability to earn but are not generating income due to some reasons. They will be restructured through public-private partnership, Soomro added.
Both the privatisation minister and secretary said that Pakistan Steel Mills is being turned into a profitable institution once more and the process for its privatisation will be completed by the end of the year. "A legal adviser has been appointed for Pakistan Steel Mills," Malik said.
The privatisation secretary said that foreign companies are showing growing interest in the current government's policies.
"The process of privatisation seems slow but we are working as fast as we can to make it happen and at least six institutions will be privatised this year," Malik said, adding that 10 more PSEs will be put on sale in the next phase.
"The process of auctioning off underutilised state land is also underway and the money procured from these auctions will be used to pay off the national debt," the secretary told the media while adding that public land will be used for the public's benefit.
Briefing the media, Malik said that some institutions that are set to be privatised are not in loss, "but their profitability is not up to market standards".