ISLAMABAD: The outbreak of novel coronavirus is likely to delay government’s privatisation programme as participation of foreign investors particularly Chinese in the bidding process seems doubtful, sources close to the Privatisation Commission told Dawn on Tuesday.

The government is working to privatise five public sector entities by June this year. It plans to privatise a total of eighteen entities in the first phase of the privatisation programme. Investors from Japan, Thailand and China are among the twelve companies which have qualified for the privatisation of two RLNG-based power plants.

The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of coronavirus as a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ based on the advice of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations, and has issued travel advisory.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) held a meeting on Tuesday and gave directions to the commission to complete all standard requirements in a regular but expeditious manner.

Chinese, Russian and Japanese investors have shown interest in setting up joint ventures in Pakistan Steel Mills.

Privatisation Minister, Muhammadmian Soomro has said the steel mills is so far out of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework but if Chinese investors show interest, the government may review the decision.

The divestment of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd shares also came up for discussion during the CCoP meeting, and it was agreed that the matter requires further deliberation.

The committee directed all relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Energy to come up with a presentation on the proposal in the next meeting.

The Privatisation Commission briefed the committee on the proposal of privatising 747MW Guddu Power Plant. The commission has received expression of interest from financial advisers and parties have been shortlisted for issuance of request for proposals.

The CCoP noted that there is a need for further discussion on the project between the National Elec­tric and Power Regulatory Authority, Power Division and the ministries of finance and privatisation.

The committee directed the departments to come up with a joint proposal in the next meeting so that the transaction may be completed within the given time frame.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2020