The ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), came to power with an electoral manifesto that promised the masses that it would take the country out of the crisis. The cornerstone of the electoral manifesto was ensuring good governance and reforming loss-incurring public sector entities (PSEs). However, with the deficit surging to rupees 1.711 trillion at the end of June this year shows that the government has forgotten that reforming the PSEs was one of its major promises.

Far from reforming them, the debt and liabilities of these enterprises shot up by Rs 400 billion since the incumbent government took charge of affairs. This leads one to ask the government about the reforms it talked about for so long. Where are all the measures that the PTI had already thought of for these loss-making public bodies? And what about the restructuring of the PSEs that Khan’s team was about to bring? It seems that the PTI government has put the task of reforming and restructuring such institutions on the back burner.

Today, the uplifting of PSEs seems a distant dream. What is beyond comprehension is how the government has altogether wrapped up the plan of the former finance minister Asad Umar, for reforming and remodelling these public institutions on the pattern of the Malaysian and Singapore model. That model, stemming out of the developmental state model is perhaps the best way to turn loss-making bodies into profitable entities. This plan was PTI’s much-touted answer; has it already conceded defeat and if yes, is there a new plan being considered?

Undoubtedly, privatisation is a tested formula for enhancing organisational efficiency. But, the decision to privatise every other state-owned enterprise to fatten our national exchequer is not a wise strategy. Many of them can be converted into profitable bodies if the state brings operational and managerial changes in them. Over-reliance on selling the PSEs to overcome structural challenges in the economy means that the present government has failed in converting these white elephants into revenue-generating institutions.