PM's Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin has made an important announcement on privatization while talking to the press on Thursday, and while addressing a parliamentarians' consultative workshop on poverty alleviation, also in Islamabad. Mr Tarin has disclosed what has not been unknown when he said that PIA and Pakistan Railways were both being run by money that came from the people's pockets, and when he said that WAPDA's distribution companies had their losses picked up by NEPRA, which clubbed them in the tariff. He did not give a schedule, but he did enumerate the entities that it had been previously earmarked for privatisation. He did disclose that the international global financial crisis had made it unlikely for there to be the privatization of any institution at present. He also said that any sizeable privatization would have to be preceded by the formation of the Council for Common Interests. This means that, presuming the end of the present international crisis, and thus the availability of appropriate buyers, the institutions that would be up for privatization would be the power distribution companies, PIA and Railways. Mr Tarin specifically ruled out the privatisation of the Utility Stores Corporation, but failed to mention that the distribution companies would still have tariffs determined by NEPRA, which would go on passing through the cost of their line losses to the consumer, while PIA and Railways would become profitable in private hands both by the raising of fares beyond the reach of current passengers, and the sacrifice of safety standards, both to the detriment of the ordinary passenger. Privatisation has been carried out all over the world, because the state was involved in too many economic enterprises it had no real business being in, and which were merely burdening the taxpayer with losses, while providing a source of jobs-for-the-boys for the government. But the motive must not be to sell off the family silver just because it is there. The state got into certain economic areas for good reason, and now it seems as if those are the state enterprises coming on the block.