ISLAMABAD

Privatization Commission has refused to brief the Parliamentary committee on the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan International Airlines in a bid to avoid expected criticism from the lawmakers.

The Senate standing committee on Finance and Revenue has called the officials of Privatization Commission on October 8 to discuss the privatization of PIA, PSM and power distribution companies. “Privatization Commission’s officials have, in written, refused to attend the committee’s meeting by making excuses of tight schedule”, said an official of the Senate while talking to The Nation. He further said this was not for the first time when PC is keeping itself away from the parliamentary body’s proceedings as its officials have refused to attend it several times before.

Pakistan had assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to privatize the loss-making PSEs including PIA, PSM and power companies (Discos). The government, in a written assurance given to IMF, had agreed to privatize the national flag carrier PIA through strategic sale by March 2016. The privatization of PSM is expected to be completed by end of June 2016. Similarly, the power distribution companies including FESCO, IESCO, LESCO and other would be privatized by next year 2016.

Therefore, the Senate’s committee wanted to discuss the privatization programme. The PC’s refusal has perturbed the senators of the committee. “We will not call them (Privatization Commission) in committee meeting next time, as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided to submit an adjournment motion against the Privatization Commission and bring the matter in the upper house of Parliament”, said Chairman Senate standing committee on Finance and Revenue Senator Saleem Manviwalla in a chat with The Nation.

He further said that Privatization Commission has also not cooperated in the inquiry of Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC), adding that sub-committee called the chairman Privatization Commission, Muhammad Zubair but he never came. The Senate’s body on Finance had constituted a sub-committee to investigate the cancellation of privatization deal of Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC) when the cheque of successful buyer was dishonoured and the government had to end the deal.

Mandviwalla has said that the Chairman Privatization Commission is busy in election campaign of NA-122, mostly on TV talk shows and some time doing press conference against Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI), and that’s why he doesn’t have time to brief the Parliament on privatization.

PPP senator stated that the production capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills has reached zero, which was 30 to 40% in the PPP regime. He demanded that NAB, FIA and the superior judiciary should take notice of this.

Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that Privatization Commission wants to keep the people of Pakistan in dark, which is unacceptable. PPP with other Opposition parties will protest against the dictatorial attitude of Privatization Commission in and outside Parliament.

The Nation tried to contact Minister of State/Chairman Privatization Commission Muhammad Zubair to take his comment on the matter, but he was not available.