ISLAMABAD: The caretaker federal cabinet on Friday gave final nod to a presidential ordinance seek­ing to set up a special tribunal to be headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court to specifically deal with the cases of privatisation of state-owned entities.

Following the approval of the ordinance by the cabinet, the past practice of challenging the decisions of privatisation of state institutions in various courts will come to an end.

A member of the federal cabinet, who did not want to be named, confirmed the approval of the ordinance through circulation. He said the decision was taken mainly to restore the confidence of investors and assured them that the decision on privatisation of state-owned entities could not be challenged in any other court, except the special tribunal.

The minister said the special tribunal’s decision could be challenged only in the Supreme Court.

The cabinet also appr­oved presidential ordinances regarding privatis­ation of four loss-mak­ing state-owned enter­­­p­rises — Radio Paki­stan, Nati­onal Highway Auth­o­rity, Pakistan Nati­onal Ship­ping Corporation (PNSC) and Pakistan Post Office.

President Dr Arif Alvi had on Dec 1 approved the promulgation of the ordinances changing the management and governance structure of these entities.

There was no official word on the cabinet decision, but some private TV channels ran the story about the approval of the ordinances.

Media reports suggested that PNSC, Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Post would now function under independent boards, as the caretaker government kicked off a process to meet another condition set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of the next tranche of $700 million under the $3 billion Standby Arrangement.

On the advice of caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, President Alvi had signed the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Ordinance, 2023; NHA Amendment Ordinance, 2023; Pakistan Postal Services Management Board Amendment Ordinance, 2023; and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Amendment Ordinance, 2023, making these entities independent but under the finance ministry’s oversight.

It has been learnt that the ordinances have sought to establish a board of directors for each of these institutions, consisting of six to 11 members, who will be experts from the private sector, instead of civil servants, who will be given salary and other allowances.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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