LAHORE - Mian Muhammad Mansha, Pakistan’s most outstanding corporate leader as well as the wealthiest man, has said that solution of country’s all problems lies in Public Sector Enterprises’ privatisation.

“Privatization of PSEs is the only solution to all economic ills, and the country should not be afraid of privatising non-productive state assets,” argued Mian Muhammad Mansha, who is also chairman of MCB Bank and Nishat Group.

While addressing the launching ceremony of Media Advocacy Centre, Mansha contended that running enterprises institutions was not the government’s job, and that sensible change in management with ownership could turn these loss-making enterprises into profitable ventures.

Sikhandar Hameed Lodhi, chief of MAC, Khaliqur Rehman, Joint Election Commissioner Punjab, several other business tycoons and financial experts were also present on the occasion.

Mian Mansha warned if next general elections were not fair Pakistan may be overrun by extremists. “We hope that all stakeholders would ensure that elections are held in a highly transparent manner so that the next government is able to devote its attention singularly on economic issues on which hinges the very survival of the country.”

“I see a major change here. Pakistan’s media has created a new awareness, changing thinking of our people, the foreign office, the security establishment and the political parties. No political party in Pakistan opposes trade with India.”

Mansha is an optimistic, having full faith in Pakistan’s economy, which is the reason that he continued investing the country irrespective of the state of its economy. Being the biggest private sector employer of Pakistan, the Nishat Group that he heads is also the country’s largest exporter, having large presence in financial, textile, cement, and power sectors.

He pointed out that as long as rent seeking and subsidies culture prevails in the country investment would remain low.

Regarding energy crisis, he said that Pakistan is blessed with large quantity of biomass that has a potential to produce 6000 MW of electricity. Our companies are using corn cob, rice husk, wheat straw, cotton plant sticks and solid municipal waste to generate energy.

The government could save a trillion rupees if the power plants using furnace oil were run on coal. Converting these plants to coal would wipe out entire circular debt in a year and generate resources for alternate energy and hydroelectric projects.

Mansha said that deteriorating fuel mix is increasing the base cost. “We are producing over 50 percent of power using the most expensive furnace oil as fuel. The public sector power projects are operating on a very low efficiency. Sensible solution to the crisis is to privatise and deregulate this sector.”

Mansha said that he has always been a strong proponent of trade with India, which offers a bigger opportunity than China. “We have many synergies, which were not exploited due to trade barriers between the two countries.”

We should be able to buy power equipment from India. Pakistan’s cement factories are efficient because we have plenty of limestone and gypsum. We should be able to buy Indian petroleum products from the Bhatinda refinery. “Initially, our industry will resist. Change is always difficult. Maybe we need three years to adjust,”he said.