Wednesday September 28, 2022

Govt to sell off SOEs to raise billions of dollars

July 30, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The federal government Friday introduced in the National Assembly the Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Bill, 2022, which will enable the government to sell off the state-owned enterprises for raising billions of dollars.

The statement of object says the bill introduced is aimed at averting a looming default and fulfilling prior actions, placed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for reviving the stalled Fund programme.

It says that unless provided otherwise by the cabinet committee, a commercial agreement under the G2G agreement shall be negotiated and executed between the nominated entities of the federal government and any government of the foreign state.

In case of an entity nominated by the government of the foreign state, the government shall have either shareholding or control of the entity. The federal government shall, by notification in the official gazette, constitute a cabinet committee on Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions.

The cabinet committee shall facilitate and supervise the commercial transactions under this ordinance and pass necessary directions for removal of hurdles or difficulties.

The cabinet committee may authorise negotiations for a G2G agreement between the federal government and government of a foreign state; constitute a negotiation committee for a G2G agreement or a commercial agreement, as the case may be, and approve price discovery mechanism; recommend approval of the G2G agreement or a commercial agreement finalised by the negotiation committee; recommend for relaxations, exemptions, exclusions or concessions from regulatory compliance; authorise fast-track procurement of services of transaction advisors or consultants.

The cabinet committee may co-opt any person as a member or may require attendance of any person by special invitation as it deems appropriate. No act, decision or proceedings of the cabinet committee shall be invalid by reason of absence, vacancy or defect in the constitution of the cabinet committee.

The bill provides that on the recommendation of the cabinet committee may, by notification in the official gazette, exempt any inter-governmental commercial transaction from the regulatory requirement or operation necessitated by any law for the time being in force for the purposes of this ordinance. If a person acting on behalf of the federal government or nominated entity has direct, indirect or perceived personal interest in any agreement under this ordinance, that person shall and immediately disclose such interest in writing to the cabinet committee and will not take part in any consideration on that matter unless the cabinet committee directs otherwise.

No court shall entertain an application, petition or suit against any process or act undertaken or done, intended or purported to be undertaken or done under this ordinance.

The bill says that no court shall grant an injunction or entertain any application for injunction against any process undertaken, intended or purported to be undertaken for a commercial transaction or agreement under this ordinance.

No suit, prosecutions or any other legal proceedings or action in damages shall lie for anything done, procedural lapses or omission in exercise or performance of any functions, power or duty conferred or imposed by or under this ordinance or any administered legislation unless the act or omission is shown, beyond reasonable doubt to have been in bad faith.

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, an investigating agency, anti-graft agency, law enforcement agency or a court shall not inquire into or initiate investigation for any procedural lapse or irregularity by any person in a commercial transaction or agreement under this ordinance unless there exists an evidence of personal monetary gain with corroborative evidence of link between such monetary gain to the undue benefit rendered to any party of the agreement.

The house also referred the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 as passed by the National Assembly and not passed by the Senate within 90 days of its laying in the Senate, to the joint sitting of the parliament for consideration and passage.

In this connection, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs moved a motion under sub-rule (7) of the rule 154 of Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business in the House, 2007 which was adopted by the House.

The minister for parliamentary affairs to move under sub-rule (7) of Rule 154 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, that the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 as passed by the National Assembly and not passed by the Senate within 90 days of its laying in the Senate, be referred to the joint sitting for consideration and passage.

Meanwhile, Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf informed the house that the resignations of 11 MNAs, belonging to the PTI, who had resigned on April 11 this year, had been accepted, and these seats have now become vacant, which had been notified by the National Assembly Secretariat on Thursday, July 28.

The National Assembly was informed on Friday Pakistan was in the process of signing agreements with different countries for export of manpower.

Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sajid Hussain Turi told the house during the Question-Hour that the countries with which the agreements were being pursued include Romania, Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Greece, UK, Kuwait, Libya and Lebanon.

He was confident that the manpower export agreements would be signed in about two months. He said our focus was also to send skilled labour to these countries. He pointed out that the agreements for export of manpower had already been signed with Germany, Malaysia and Korea. During the first half of the current year, over four lakh people would be sent abroad for employment. He said about 50,000 people were going to Saudi Arabia every month for employment.

Responding to a question, Sajid Turi said seven housing schemes had been completed for overseas Pakistan, whilst more such projects would be launched for them.

Responding to a calling attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan said the government had taken steps to protect the low-income groups and salaried class from the bad effects of price-hike. He said salaries of the employees had been enhanced by 15 per cent in the budget while a raise had also been given to pensioners. He was confident that the rupee would appreciate following receipt of the next tranche from the IMF.

He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would soon announce a package for the agriculture sector in order to achieve self-sufficiency in major crops such as wheat.

To another calling attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Power Rana Iradat Sharif Khan told the house that recruitment would be made in DISCOs on merit.