ISLAMABAD - State Minister for Privatisation Mohammad Zubair said yesterday that the government might call joint session of the Parliament if Senate blocked PIA privatisation bill.

Addressing a press conference, Zubair said strikes were no solution to any problem and government was ready to hold talks with the protesting employees of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the best national interest.

He said, “Employment protection of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees and to convert the state-owned entity from a loss-making unit into a profitable organisation is the top priority of the government.” MNAs Danyal Aziz and Talal Chaudhry were also present.

“We want to sit with the protesting employees and sort out the issues amicably by taking them into confidence so the employees should come and talk with the government on the issue,” he added.

“We are committed to provide international standard and competitive job environment in PIA, through sale of shares of PIA to strategic partners which will enhance the capacity of employees, besides improving the performance of the organisation,” Zubair said.

He said the government would follow the transparency mechanism during the privatisation process and also take onboard all the stakeholders in process. He said privatisation of PIA and other national institutions was also mentioned in PTI manifesto.

He reminded that during PPP regime under the premiership of Benazir Bhutto 27 national entities were privatised, adding that same policy was adopted in previous government of PPP, but because of lack of capacity they were unable to continue the process of privatisaion.

Zubair said, “We consulted all the opposition parties including PTI and all the stakeholders were onboard during the discussion process.”

He urged the opposition parties to avoid political scoring and show maturity on issues of national interest. “It’s is priority of the government to remove the reservations of all stakeholders including the employees,” he remarked.

He said the input from the experts was duly incorporated in the privatisation plan before initiation of the process. Zubair said after the strategic sale of PIA it would become financially stable and passenger-handling would improve, besides national exchequer would get more taxes.

Zubair said that during current regime 435 people got job in PIA, which was totally non-political and according to requirement and merit policy followed by the government.

He said that 1000 employees retired during the past two years against whom only 435 people were recruited in PIA.

Danyal Aziz said that it was the policy of the government to privatise those state-owned bleeding entities which were causing huge losses to national exchequer.

He said PIA was incurring an annual loss of Rs 600 billion and was a big burden on the national kitty. The government could save this amount and spend it on social sector development, he added.

He said that while going for process of privatisation, all the relevant rules, procedures and regulations were being properly followed.

He said that those who were opposing the privatisation of PIA were hatching conspiracies against the development and economic prosperity of the country.

Talal Chuadhry said that PTI was hatching conspiracy against government by opposing privatisation of PIA and making mere political point scoring.