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September 12, 2020

Solar Park, state land sell-off deferred

Lahore

September 12, 2020

LAHORE:The Punjab government Friday deferred a proposal of privatization of billion of worth rupees provincial land in different districts of along with Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park on the pretext that limited provincial assets should be made profitable to increase the indigenous income of the Punjab instead of selling them.

Further, the auction of land made during years 2016, 2017 and 2018 by the previous government could not be approved. The outgoing government had auctioned over Rs995 million worth of land during the three years through the privatization board. However, the process remained incomplete. The Board of Revenue proposed that the auction made by the District Privatization Committees in years 2016, 2017 and 2018 but not approved by the former government may be transferred to the Auction Committee headed by Divisional Commissioners as the validity period of price assessment of one year has expired.

These decisions were made in the 22nd meeting of the Cabinet Committee for Privatization headed by Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat attended by Provincial Ministers Mohsin Laghari, Noman Ahmed Lnagrial, Fayaz Chohan, Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik, Secretary Finance Abdullah Sumbal, Senior Member Board of Revenue Baber Hayat Tarar and other officials. The meeting constituted a committee to review the auction made in the past. The Board of Revenue should provide the details of all privatized assets made under the Privatization Act 2010 till now.

The meeting observed that public assets should not be privatized and converted them into revenue generation assets to increase the provincial government income. Further, the privatization of Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park was also deferred and it was instructed that the energy department should submit its proposals and recommendations which will be tabled before the Cabinet. The final decision would be made by the provincial cabinet in the light of the recommendations of the energy department. The energy department should provide details of income and expenditure details of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park. The BOR also proposed allowing the privatization of 674 properties of the various districts of the Punjab as out of total 1,171 properties, 497 were auctioned in the past during 2016, 2017 and 2018 but the process was not completed as the provincial cabinet repealed the Punjab Privatization. However, since the value of the priorities has increased so there is a need for the reassessment of the previously auctioned properties. The BOR proposed that 674 properties available with the Punjab privatization board may be forwarded to the divisional auction committee headed by Divisional Commissioners for auction through board of revenue.

However, the CCOP deferred all the proposals of the BOR for the privatization of the state land. The meeting observed the government was responsible to protect the limited provincial resources and assets and make them profitable to increase the provincial regular income. The issue of the solar power plant could also be discussed with the federal government.

Convener of the committee, Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat instructed the BOR to consult with the Planning and Development Board and take help from the Chief Secretary for the completion of existing and pipelines land-related projects.

The SMBR briefed the meeting that BOR had transferred 1,171 properties to the privatization board under Privatization Act 2010 out of which 497 properties were auctioned. Bidding documents were approved in March 2018 for the privatization of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park but it was postponed due at audit and inquiry matters. He pointed out that the government has the right to make a decision for the privatization of the park while required information was gathered from the energy department following the instructions of the finance department.