On Monday the Privatisation Minister—Daniyal Aziz informed that the government is all set to finalize the process of the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) core business before the 15th of April.
While speaking in a press conference Aziz stressed that the government is only planning to privatise the core business which includes the management and flight operations of the airline, while the remaining business would continue being the government’s property.
He further mentioned that the government is also planning to establish another company which would be managing all the national flag carrier’s assets.
The minister said that during the privatisation procedure, all the legal rights and the financial benefits of the airline employees would be “fully protected”.
He informed that as per the PIAC Conversion Act, 2016—which was collectively accepted by the parliament, the government was destined to finish the entire privatisation process by the 15th of April this year.
He added that the Pakistan International Airlines has been experiencing losses since like many years and is an extensive load on the national economy, owing to this reason privatising the airline had always been the topmost agenda of every government.
As of March 2017, the total losses experienced by the airline are of rupees three hundred and twenty-five billion, Aziz unveiled.
The Minister assured that he would himself be closely monitoring the entire privatisation process and would make sure that everything is done in a transparent way for the larger interest of the country.
He claimed that not only the selling of the airline would benefit the country as it would help in recovering the huge losses, but it would also provide people with a chance to enjoy reasonable flight rates and that too with the “state-of-the-art international facilities”.
Pakistan has suffered over rupees six hundred billion losses during the last three decades because of the loss-making State-Owned Entities (SOEs). Aziz said that if this amount had been spent on the development sectors Pakistan would have been able to compete with nations like Singapore.
He maintained that our intention is to make Pakistan an “Asian Tiger”, however with such loss-making properties that looks a far-fetched call as a huge portion of the resources is spent on recovering losses.
The Privatisation Commission is willing to get the rule reversed to sell not just the management but even the ownership of the airline.
As per a rule called PIAC Conversion Act, passed in 2016 by a joint session of the parliamentarians, PIA was converted into a public limited company (PIACL) and could not be sold entirely if the government plans to sell it. Under the rule, the ownership of the airline would always be staying with the government as they would keep a majority share portion of fifty-one percent.
Emirates and Etihad Airways—two of the Gulf airlines have shown interest in buying the PIA’s stake before the entire privatisation efforts misshapen in 2016.
Meanwhile, the opposition in the National Assembly is clearly against the sell-off of PIA’s core business and is holding the present government responsible for the sorry state of the airline.
Khursheed Shah—Opposition Leader said that the government itself is to be blamed for the losses as it hired corrupt and incompetent top management for the airline.
The Privatisation Minister said that the entire privatisation process would be a blessing for the nation and the citizens as it would bring increased employment and investment opportunities.