ISLAMABAD - The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) on Thursday decided to initiate process of privatisation of public sector entities including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) as committed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Sources informed The Nation that government has decided to privatise 31 public sector entities (PSEs) during the current financial year 2013-14 mainly included banking, petroleum and energy sector companies. Sources further informed that government would also privatise other key entities like PIA, PSM insurance companies, Utilities Stores Corporation, Power Distribution Companies and National Insurance Companies.

The decision came in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) that was held under the Chairmanship of Senator. Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation.

Pakistan has agreed with IMF for privatisation of PSEs for $6.7 billion loan programme under extended funds facility (EFF). Pakistan was supposed to develop and approve a reform strategy for public 30 sector enterprises (PSEs) out of the 65 short-listed firms for privatisation, according to the IMF documents. Therefore, CCoP on Thursday decided to privatise 31 public sector entities.

Sources further said that government would improve the all loss-making entities through strategic partnerships and the government will retain the majority shares in all entities. According to a media report, among the 30 firms, the government has proposed off-loading shares it holds in Oil and Gas Development Company, Pakistan Petroleum, Pakistan State Oil, Habib Bank and United Bank. The CCoP may decide either to handover management control of the National Insurance Company to the private sector or go for an initial public offering (IPO). Islamabad Electricity Supply Company, Gujranwala Electricity Supply Company and Pakistan International Airlines are proposed for strategic partnerships. While Pakistan Steel Mills is planned to be restructured.

The economic experts are of the view that the several key state-owned institutions like PIA, Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, Wapda and other institutions are a major drag on Pakistan’s economy. These loss-making entities are presently bleeding to the tune of Rs 400 billion per annum.

Meanwhile, according to the press statement issued here, a meeting of Privatisation Commission furnished a list of entities for consideration of the CCoP. After thorough deliberations the Committee agreed to initiate process of privatisation. It also directed the Privatisation Commission to ensure that the interests of employees were to be protected at all cost. The meeting was attended by Minister of Water and Power Khawja Mohammad Asif, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Privatisation Khurram Dastagir, Federal Secretaries for Water and Power, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Finance, Planning and Development ,Commerce, Law Justice and Human Rights, Board of Investment, Privatisation Commission, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Chairman Securities & Exchange Commission and senior officials of Ports and Shipping Division, Textile Industry Division.