PM Kakar seeks to expedite PIA’s sell-off

Published September 15, 2023
Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said that PIA’s privatisation process needed to be expedited urgently so as to provide a reliable service to
users and raise the standard of the national flag carrier to match the
global standards.—AFP/file
Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said that PIA’s privatisation process needed to be expedited urgently so as to provide a reliable service to users and raise the standard of the national flag carrier to match the global standards.—AFP/file

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Thursday tasked newly appointed Privatisation Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad with expediting the PIA’s privatisation of process.

The prime minister issued the directives while presiding over a meeting that discussed matters related to the cash-strapped national flag carrier.

The PM’s instructions came a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) advised the interim government to refrain from inducting persons of known political allegiance into the cabinet.

It is believed the electoral watchdog’s advice to interim government came against the backdrop of Mr Fawad’s appointment.

“He (PM) welcomed the new caretaker minister for privatisation… Fawad Hasan Fawad to his team and instructed him to oversee the process of privatisation of PIA and to complete it on a fast-track basis,” said an official press release issued by the Prime Minister Office.

It may be recalled that soon after the appointment of Mr Fawad, who is former principal secretary to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, the ECP wrote to PM’s principal secretary Dr Tauqir Shah, saying the interim government should refrain from inducting “persons of known political allegiance”.

At Thursday’s meeting, Prime Minister Kakar said that PIA’s privatisation process needed to be expedited urgently so as to provide a reliable service to users and raise the standard of the national flag carrier to match the global standards.

He said all stakeholders must work to find an immediate solution to matters related to the privatisation of PIA.

PIA has reportedly resorted to ground several aircraft as it struggles to secure funds to maintain its operations for the next few months, during which time its core functions and non-core assets are expected to be put up for sale.

The report said the Ministry of Aviation had recently issued a stern warning, telling the federal government that PIA currently grapples with a severe cash flow crisis, leading to arrears with creditors, aircraft lessors, fuel suppliers, insurers, international and domestic airport operators, and even the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Consequently, the national flag carrier has been compelled to ground five of its 13 leased aircraft, with the possibility of four more facing a similar fate, the ministry said.

Adding to mounting concerns, the Ministry of Aviation disclosed that Boeing and Airbus are on the verge of discontinuing the supply of spare parts by mid-September.

Consider­ing these challenges, the ministry then sought an immediate cash injection of Rs23 billion, and the suspension of duties, taxes and service charges to domestic agencies. However, this request comes without the presentation of a concrete and viable business plan.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2023

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