‘No new entity on privatisation list’

Published September 22, 2023
Caretaker Minister for Privatisation Fawad Has­san Fawad addresses a press conference on Sept 21 in Islamabad. — PID
Caretaker Minister for Privatisation Fawad Has­san Fawad addresses a press conference on Sept 21 in Islamabad. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Privatisation Fawad Has­san Fawad said on Thursday that the caretaker government has not included any additional state-owned entity in the list of privatisation and it is only taking forward the process of those entities which were included in the privatisation programme by the previous government.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Fawad said in clear terms that it is not the mandate of the caretaker government to include any new entity in the active privatisation list, and if we do that, it will be wrong. The privatisation of state-owned entities is a process that was initiated by the previous governments and it will continue in future, he announced.

As far as PIA is concerned, the minister said that it was doing what the previous elected government had empowered the caretaker government to do.

The government saved PIA from collapse by arranging additional funding for the flag carrier, together with new measures to improve PIA’s performance.

He regretted that despite having 96 attractive routes, PIA is incurring annual losses of billions of rupees and millions of expatriates reach their destinations in Europe in 24 hours instead of eight hours.

There are some entities which have gone through the privatisation process, but they still lack completion because of some legal issues, he said.

“We are removing those legal obstacles to complete the transactions.” If the process is not completed in time, the government may have to pay damages to bidders who have already made payments to the government, he said.

The minister said he had started reviewing the process of privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills with the financial adviser. Because of the prequalified process that started in 2020, he said, four bidders had qualified, but due to Covid-19 and the resultant downslide of the world economy, the process was delayed and at present out of four, three bidders have withdrawn their offers.

Those state assets which are causing losses and declining in value should be taken out of the state’s account, he said.

Published in Dawn, September 22th, 2023

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