ISLAMABAD - No employee of Pakistan International Airlines will lose his/her job in the planned privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged yesterday.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on behalf of the Prime Minister has given assurance to Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah and other heads of opposition parties that not even a single employee of the national flag career would lose his/her job in the privatisation process.

Nawaz Sharif was briefed by Dar last morning amid continuing opposition’s protest to his plans to sell off the national flag carrier and make it viable. The government plans to sell 26 per cent stake in PIA to meet the International Monetary Fund’s conditions for a loan.

The Finance Minister briefed the Prime Minister on the new ordinance paving the way for the privatisation of PIA. The Prime Minister was informed about the salient features of the new PIA company law partnership, which included job protection of all employees, insulating PIA from bureaucratic control and to run it on an autonomous corporate model like OGDCL. 

The Prime Minister directed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to meet the opposition leader and allay his fears over his plans to privatise Pakistan International airlines, a senior official told the Nation.

The government is concerned about the strength of opposition on the issue, in particular the series of walkouts in the National Assembly. Opposition leaders have voiced their anger over minister’s failure to debate the issue in parliament and its insistence on carrying out the reform through an ordinance instead.

Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah warned the government that they would block any attempt to sack any of the airline’s 18,000 employees and demanded that the Finance Minister safeguard all jobs.

PML (N) insiders said that Prime Minister was disturbed that the opposition parties had united over the issue and anxious to work out a new strategy to ease their fears.

“Make it clear to the Opposition Leader that we will do the whole exercise of privatisation in most transparent manner and will take them into confidence over it,” the Prime Minister said to Ishaq Dar.

In the meeting the Prime Minister further directed Ishaq Dar to ensure that there should not be any delay in release of funds for the rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons in Waziristan Agency.

The Minister for Finance apprised the Prime Minister that the government was focussed on the rehabilitation of Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDP’s) who have offered sacrifices, after the successful launch of operation Zarb-e-Azab. The Prime Minister directed that all resources shall be made available for prompt and honourable rehabilitation of TDPs.

The Minister for Finance informed the Prime Minister that out of the Rs 40 billion revenue proposed to be generated   through regulatory duty on luxury items, Rs 27 billion shall be allocated to provinces.

PIA TO BE PRIVATISED BY NEXT YEAR: MINISTER

The government will privatise its national carrier by next July, a minister said Tuesday, following years of crushing losses and mismanagement that have battered the airline’s reputation.

“We are planning to privatise PIA in view of its heavy and recurring financial losses,” Privatisation Minister Mohammad Zubair told AFP.

Once the government approves the sale, the Privatisation Commission will try to sell the struggling airline on the international market.

Zubair said the government was considering the mode of privatisation but one option was to sell 26 percent of the total shares along with management control.

“We will hold road shows in the Middle East and China as well as in Europe to find a buyer,” he added.

The government over the weekend converted PIA’s state-owned status to a “commercial entity” through an ordinance, but stopped short of announcing its privatisation plans.

“If anybody has a better plan (except privatisation), we are ready to listen to that,” the minister said while reacting to protests.