ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation has approved amendments to the Privatisation Commission Ordinance 2000.

The details of the amendments — approved by the standing committee on Wednesday — were released by the Privatisation Commission on Thursday. The amendments will facilitate the Privatisation Commission to open accounts in any of the high rating banks identified by the State Bank, and meet the deadline and eschew unnecessary delay. The ordinance will now go forth for approval of the National Assembly.

During deliberations at the standing committee meeting, it was suggested that the Privatisation Commission should be allowed to open its accounts due to the urgency of its work.

The proposed amendments will empower the prime minister to appoint chairman, secretary or any board member of the Privatisation Commission. The prime minister may appoint special medical board regarding the health of the chairman, secretary or any board member of the commission.

The committee also discussed the leasing of Roosevelt Hotel owned by PIA in New York, and it was proposed by the chairman of standing committee, that all stakeholders and senior officials from PIA, Aviation Division, Privatisation Commission and members from PIA subsidiary investment company to be present at the next meeting of the committee to brief and discuss the status of Roosevelt Hotel in detail.

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation in its meeting in November last year had approved the formulation of the task force for business plan of the Roosevelt Hotel and also formulation of terms of reference to that effect, and the same was ratified by the federal cabinet in December. However, further work on this task is halted due to the absence of CEO of PIA and pending litigation.

Minister for Privatisation, Muhammadmian Soomro later told newsmen that the government will privatise five public sector enterprises by June this year. Eighteen public sector enterprises will be privatised in the first phase of the government’s privatisation programme, and financial advisers have been appointed for sixteen PSEs so far.

Mr Soomro said that the process of bidding of the two RLNG power plants will be completed in three months, after which the privatisation process of remaining PSEs will be completed one by one each month.

He said that the hurdles in the way of privatisation of RLNG power plants were being removed, and PPRA rules and guidelines of Supreme Court were also being implemented. The privatisation minister said that SME bank, Services Hotel and the First Women Bank will also be privatised.

About delay in the privatisation of RLNG-based power plants, he said that the government has to sell these plants and would be ready for demerger in case any buyer is interested. There will be no loss if both the plants are sold to one bidder or separately.

Regarding Pakistan Steel Mills, the privatisation minister said that financial adviser for this transaction will be appointed soon.

Chinese, Russian and Japanese investors have expressed their interest for joint ventures, he added.

The Steel Mills is so far out of the CPEC framework but if Chinese investors show interest, the decision can be reviewed, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020

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