LAHORE - Privatization of public sector enterprises and resource mobilization can ensure economic recovery as out of total Rs2 trillion government revenues, 58 per cent goes to provinces while out of remaining 42 percent, Rs1 trillion is utilized for debt servicing, Rs600 billion for defence and Rs500 billion are spent on public sector enterprises including Railways, PIA, Steel Mills and WAPDA. 

Javed Iqbal, Member Lahore Stock Exchange and chief executive of Javed Iqbal Securities observed that government has been pumping in billions of rupees to bail out Pakistan International Airlines and keep it afloat, but its performance is going down day by day. The best option for government is to privatise PIA as early as possible to improve its performance and save the national exchequer from further drain.

He said that discourteous, incompetent crew, repeated delays in flight schedules and absence of facilities to the travellers have turned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into a white elephant in true sense of the word and only its restructuring to save it from total destruction.

Javed Iqbal stated that with a small number of fit-to-fly planes, the PIA would not be able to survive for long if due attention was not given to solve its governance issues, he said. He said heavy dependence of the national flag carrier on government funding and little attention towards solution to problems of its clients has not only affected its reputation but its performance as well.

The LSE member said that the airline has suffered losses worth Rs.120 billion over the last ten years, which is not acceptable for a commercial entity and shows the extent of its bad performance. Flight delays and cancellation has become the norm of PIA as its flight delay ratio is more than 35% due to which its passengers are now shifting to other airlines.

Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front Chairman Malik Tahir Javaid said the businessmen gave preference to fly with the national flag carrier with a spirit of nationalism but if they would be forced to travel in economy class instead of business class for which they had paid for, nobody would be ready to take the flight and would like to use the service of other countries.

He said out of the 34 air crafts in PIA’s fleet, 24 are serviceable while the aircraft-to-employee ratio in PIA currently stands at 552 per aircraft compared to global average ratio of 120. All these indicators call for urgent restructuring of the airline and prepare it for privatization to bring professionalism in its operations and get rid of huge subsidies which the government has to pay to keep the PSEs in running condition. He demanded that the government should introduce reforms in the national flag carrier and it would be far better if it was run under public-private partnership.

Khawaja Khawar Rashid, Chairman Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Regional Standing Committee said terrorism is not the only cause for isolation of Pakistan, bad performance of PIA is also an important factor discouraging tourists from coming to Pakistan due to non-availability of direct flights.

He said government should adopt an open sky policy and provide incentives to other airlines to commence direct flights to Pakistan.