M.A. Malik Since its inception in 1967, the PPP has been mandated for the fourth time to run the affairs of the country with the support of the downtrodden, who regard it as the only political entity capable of promoting their rights and changing their economic situation by getting rid of the archaic and exploitative system of governance geared to promoting politics of graft and entitlement. Why wouldnt they? The founder of PPP, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, besides lifting Pakistan from the ashes after the Dhaka debacle and giving the first ever consensus constitution to the country, triggered an unstoppable revolution through his politics wedded to the emancipation of the downtrodden masses by giving them a voice and introducing radical changes in the economic sphere for their benefit. He legislated to protect the rights of workers and encouraged the culture of trade unionism, introduced land reforms and established big industrial concerns like Heavy Mechanical Complex. Steel Mills Karachi, Aeronautical Complex Kamra and a host of other industrial units, and set up school, colleges, universities and hospitals throughout the country that generated thousands of jobs for the poor segments of society. He gave the right of a passport to every citizen of Pakistan and facilitated millions of skilled and non-skilled Pakistanis to seek employment in the Middle Eastern countries, besides encouraging economic migration to the European countries. The remittances from overseas Pakistanis, which are now in the vicinity of $12 billion, constitute a dependable source of foreign exchange for Pakistan. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, following her fathers footstep, also maintained faith in the poorer segments of society and took serious policy initiatives to ameliorate their lot like the reinstatement of thousands of workers and employees sacked on political grounds, besides setting up the First Women Bank and women police that has unleashed a silent revolution in the country providing equal job opportunities for women. The present government in line with the vision and legacy bequeathed by its leaders has stuck to its revolutionary culture with an unswerving commitment. It has launched the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Waseela-e-Haq initiative benefiting the poorer segments of society, as poverty alleviation measures. Under the BISP, Rs85 billion have been disbursed to four million poor families. The scheme has not only been appreciated by the World Bank, UK and Asian Development Bank, but also provided financial and technical support by them. However, the most significant measure adopted by the government for the empowerment of working classes and improving their economic conditions is the Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESO) announced by the PM on August 14, 2009. Under this scheme, the employees of State-owned industrial units will now be their shareholders. Initially, the workers will get 12 percent shares, which will be increased in the future. The scheme envisages a financial impact of Rs198.78 billion for its implementation in 77 State-owned enterprises (SOEs), employing nearly 500,000 workers. They are now partners in those units and this will entitle them to the membership of board of governors of these enterprises. Only permanent employees of the SOEs and contractual employees with a minimum service of five years as on August 14, 2009, are eligible for the allocation of shares in the form of unit certificates on the basis of their length of service with maximum up to 20 units. Employees representatives on the respective boards will be nominated by the government and each employee will be entitled to dividends from the date of applicability of the scheme. As much as 50 percent of the dividend will be transferred to a central revolving fund for annul payouts and 50 percent will be distributed among the employees. The allocation of shares and distribution of the profits will be handled by Employees Empowerment Trust (EET) created in each SOE with a token cash and trustees will consist of government nominees and representatives of employees. The shares of SOEs will be transferred to the trust which will assign units to employees. Employees can surrender the certificates to the trust on retirement or when they cease to be employees of the industrial unit. The government will guarantee buyback of the surrendered unit on the basis of market value of the listed companies. The Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme is, undoubtedly, another revolutionary decision of the present government in regard to empowering of the workers, as it elevates them to the status of owners of public companies and corporations. Since the employees have become stakeholders in these enterprises, it is likely to have a positive impact on the productivity of these units, ensuring industrial peace and converting them into profitable concerns and helping in doing away the syndrome of persistent losses incurred by these enterprises. The writer is a freelance columnist.