Sell-off revenue used to repay debt, reduce poverty, Senate body told

Published July 9, 2021
The committee deferred its discussion on the ‘Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021’ to the next meeting. — Reuters
The committee deferred its discussion on the ‘Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021’ to the next meeting. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: At the maiden meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation on Thursday, the government said that 99 per cent of the revenue generated through privatisation was utilised for debt retirement and poverty alleviation.

Giving details at the meeting, Privatisation Secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy said that 90pc of the revenue from privatisation was used for debt retirement while the remaining 10pc was for poverty alleviation.

The committee deferred its discussion on the ‘Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021’ to the next meeting since members requested Committee Chairman Senator Shammin Afridi to study the draft bill.

Senator Sabir Shah, a committee member, emphasised on the monitoring and assessment of the process of the strategic sale of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Officials of the Ministry of Privatisation explained that the transaction structure was approved by the federal cabinet.

When a question was further raised, whether or not, a comparison between the market price and reference price takes place before the bidding, the officials further explained that world-class financial advisers were appointed for the evaluation of entities. The privatisation process holds complete transparency and goes through the Privatisation Commission Board, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation and the cabinet for the approval of the reference price.

On the occasion, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani expressed serious reservations on the approval for the privatisation of the institutions. The approval of the Council of Common interest (CCI) for privatisation cannot be ignored by law, he said. “If a conflict of approval occurs between the cabinet and the CCI, which decision will prevail,” he questioned. The ministry officials explained that the privatisation process does not proceed if such a conflict occurs.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2021

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