ISLAMABAD - The PTI-led coalition government has decided to privatise five public sector entities (PSEs), wherein it expects no opposition from political parties or labour unions.

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation, meeting under the chair of Finance Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday, approved to privatise SME Bank Ltd, First Women Bank Ltd, Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad, Lakhra Coal Development Company and Services International Hotel, Lahore.

The committee also gave the go-ahead to Privatisation Division for undertaking the process for privatisation of newly-established 1233 MW Balloki Power Plant and the 1230MW Haveli Bahadur Power Plant.

In going ahead on the politically inflammable issue of privatisation, the PTI government has followed the policy of its predecessor.

The PML-N government had also privatised some PSEs, but only those which were profitable and on which it faced no pressure from political parties and labour unions.

The last government had also completed the privatisation of 5 PSEs, out of 26 transactions initiated, thereby generating $1.124 billion.

It had privatised United Bank Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Allied Bank Limited, Habib Bank Limited and National Power Construction Company.

The Asad-led committee noted that the listing of a large number of entities on the privatisation register for more than a decade had been detrimental to their operations as these were neither privatised nor any serious effort was undertaken to revitalise them.

After detailed deliberations, it was decided to delist Pakistan Steel Mills, PIA, Pakistan Railways, Utility Stores Corporation, NHA and CAA from the Privatisation list.

Ministry of Industries was directed to put up an action plan for operationalisation of Pakistan Steel Mills within 45 days.

Similar instructions for improvement and revitalisation of other entities were given to the relevant ministries.

In the case of CAA it was noted that the Authority performed a regulatory function and could not be privatised.

The Privatisation Commission Secretary made a detailed presentation to the Committee on the Privatisation Program pursued by the government over the last two decades.

The committee discussed the objectives and rationale of the privatisation program. It was noted that only one entity was privatised during the last five years, apart from divestment of shares in a few already privatised entities.

The committee also directed the industries ministry to carry out a detailed review of all the entities in its purview, and make recommendations for their revival or privatisation.

Commerce ministry was similarly directed to review the insurance/ reinsurance sector and make recommendations.

In the case of gas sector utilities the CCOP decided that privatisation of these entities should could not be undertaken before putting in place a regulatory regime to create competitive market place. The committee directed the petroleum ministry to take necessary action in that regard.

Regarding financial institutions it was decided to delist National Bank of Pakistan. Delisting of IDBP was also approved as the process for its winding up was already underway. In case of HBFC and NITL, finance ministry was directed to submit recommendations for their retention or removal from the privatisation list.

The committee also decided not to privatise the Printing Corporation of Pakistan and Trading Corporation of Pakistan. And, the relevant ministries were directed to submit proposals for improvement in their working along with plan for disposal of their non-essential fixed assets.

The committee also directed the Privatisation Commission to ensure complete transparency in all its transactions.

The finance minister maintained that the process of divestment was meant to encourage and attract private sector partnership to turn around ailing PSEs by injecting capital, modernising through technological upgradation besides introducing best corporate practices.