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Opinion

Capital suggestion

June 3, 2018

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Rs3.7 trillion

Rs3,742,000,000,000: that is the accumulated amount lost by our 190 public-sector enterprises (PSEs) over the last five years. That means each and every Pakistani family has lost Rs125,000 in the past five years. That means each and every Pakistani has lost Rs18,000 in the past five years. It is all our money. Who is losing it and why?

Here’s an abridged list of our PSEs: PIA, PSO, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel, Sui Southern, Sui Northern, OGDCL, PPL, Faisalabad Electric, Hyderabad Electric, Tribal Electric, HBFC, National Insurance, Jamshoro Power Company, Nandipur Power Project, Northern Power, National Transmission and Dispatch Company, Trading Corporation, Utility Stores, Pakistan Agriculture Storage, National Fertiliser, PTV, Zarai Taraqqiati Bank, NBP, Pakistan Broadcasting, Pakistan Electric Power Company and First Women Bank.

PIA is losing Rs125 million per day every day of the year for a total of Rs45 billion a year. Pakistan Railway is losing Rs95 million per day every day of the year for a total of Rs34 billion a year. Accumulated losses at Pakistan Steel have reached a staggering Rs177 billion (each and every Pakistani family has so far lost Rs6,000 in Pakistan Steel alone).

In 2013, PSEs lost Rs495 billion. Losses in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 rose to Rs570 billion, Rs712 billion, Rs862 billion and Rs1,100 billion, respectively. Imagine, public-sector enterprises lost more than Rs1 trillion last year in just one year.

Did you know that there is a company called the Pakistan Stone Development Company? Yes, we have the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company. Furniture Pakistan, what does that do? How about National Industrial Parks Development and Management Company, Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company and Pakistan Hunting and Sporting Arms Development Company.

For the record, the figure for ‘direct taxes’ in budget 2018-19 is Rs1.7 trillion. And the government has lost Rs3.7 trillion in PSEs over the past five years. Why does the government want to raise more taxes? Why not cut the losses of PSEs? For the record, the figure for ‘Defence Affairs and Services’ in budget 2018-19 is Rs1.1 trillion. And the government has lost Rs3.7 trillion in PSEs over the past five years.

For the record, Pakistan spent Rs550 billion on ‘education’ last year. Yes, public-sector enterprises lost Rs1.1 trillion the same year. Our state institutions are ‘extractionary’ and our politics ‘exclusionary’. Both must be laid to rest.

Red alert: public-sector enterprises are losing Rs62 billion a month every month of the year. Red alert: public-sector enterprises are losing Rs2 billion a day every day of the year. Whose money is it? Who is losing it and why?

Who is going to bell the cat? Time is of essence and the losses must be plugged. All that is needed is political will. It is absolutely not about buying new engines for Pakistan Railways or leasing new aircraft for PIA. It is about re-positioning the assets we already own. It is about re-organising assets we already own. All that is lacking is political will.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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