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Saturday May 18, 2024

Rabbani slams govt’s privatisation agenda for PIA, SOEs

PMLN does not have a mandate from the people for privatising the SOEs: says Rabbani

By Asim Yasin
April 23, 2024
Former Senate chairman and Senator Mian Raza Rabbani. — APP/File
Former Senate chairman and Senator Mian Raza Rabbani. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has said the finance minister and the federal government seem to be obsessed with the privatisation of PIA and the state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“The privatisation is being carried out clandestinely, and details are not being shared with the elected labour unions, various professional associations, or the common employees. The only beneficiaries of such information are the IMF, or Pakistan’s ruling elite,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Rabbani said the PMLN does not have a mandate from the people for privatising the SOEs, particularly those vital to Pakistan’s interests. This is evident from the fact that in the National Assembly, PMLN does not have a simple majority.

The former Senate said PIA, as well as airports, are strategic assets and are used for defence purposes in a state of emergency. “Being given any part or complete ownership in foreign hands will compromise national interests,” he said.

He said the finance minister should be aware of Paragraph No. 9, Chapter 3, State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ownership and Management Policy, 2023, issued by the finance division, government of Pakistan.

“The said chapter deals with ownership and establishment of SOEs and, in particular, pertains to strategic SOEs,” he said. He said Paragraph No. 11, State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ownership and Management Policy, 2023, issued by the finance division, government of Pakistan, deals with the reforms and restructuring of the said SOEs.

Rabbani raised questions regarding the privatisation of PIA, which he said needed to be answered:

(i) What is going to be the treatment of the various prime properties owned by PIA in different cities of Pakistan?

(ii) What is going to be the treatment of the various properties and hotels owned by PIA in foreign countries?

(iii) What is going to be the treatment in terms of the job security of the regular employees of PIA?

(iv) What is going to be the treatment with the cockpit crew?

(v) What is going to be the treatment of the retired employees in terms of their pensions?

Raza Rabbani said PIA and other SOEs fall under the Federal Legislative List, Part-II, Constitution, 1973, and are governed under Article 154, Constitution, 1973, i.e., their policies are governed by the Council of Common Interest (CCI). “The policy approval of PIA and other SOEs for privatisation has to be taken from the CCI and not the federal cabinet. Any such approval other than CCI is unconstitutional and void ab initio,” he said.