ISLAMABAD - Representatives of various associations and CBA representing Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Saturday.

The representatives shared with the minister their concerns regarding the promulgation of PIA Coproratization Ordinance which they apprehended was meant for its privatisation, said a ministry statement issued here. They stressed that the government should not take any step which is detrimental to the job security of PIA employees.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister assured the employee representatives that their apprehensions were based on misunderstandings and confusion created by certain vested interests.

He stated that the government was pursuing the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which was to raise PIA, once again, to the status of a top international airline. He stated that the Ordinance to transform PIA from a statutory organization into a corporate entity had been issued to grant maximum autonomy to the PIA management and enable it to independently take its decisions rather than look up to the government for all sorts of approvals.

He stated that the Ordinance would facilitate the smooth functioning of the airline making it completely independent of the bureaucratic control.

The decision making process will be much faster and the benefits will be seen by the employees. He assured the employees that the Ordinance had not altered their terms of service nor their rights with regard to their employer.

He emphasized that those establishing a link between the Ordinance and privatization were wrong, because corporatization is not a must for privatisation and statutory organizations could be privatized as well. The finance minister said that under the directions of the Prime Minister, the present management had brought about a number of improvements in PIA.

The Airline has a much bigger fleet compared to early 2013. The services have also been improved a great deal.

However, further improvements in fleet, technology and services require injection of capital. For that purpose the government was looking for a strategic partner who would be ready to work with the government to take the Airline to the desired standard. The strategic partner would be offered a stake in the Airline. However, the government is committed to maintain majority share holding in the company. The government is also determined to ensure full transparency in the selection of the strategic partner.

He also referred to the decision of setting up a parliamentary committee comprising of all parties represented in the Parliament and said that it was another step to ensure openness and transparency in decision making.

The finance minister said that PIA needed to significantly improve its employee to aircraft ratio. This objective should be achieved through increase in the number of aircraft rather than decreasing the number of employees.

He assured the participants that the Prime Minister had issued clear directions that no employee should be deprived of his job. The government is therefore committed to protection of rights of the employees. He reiterated that the recent Ordinance had not altered employee rights in any way. The employees representatives also presented certain other demands which the finance minister agreed to consider sympathetically.

Senator Mushahidullah, Chairman Privatisation Commission Mohammad Zubair, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Chairman PIA Shujaat Azeem, President CBA Shamim Akmal, President SSA Aqeel Saddique, President Peoples Unity Hadayatullah Khan, President United Workers Union Shahid Qureshi, Obaidullah Khan president PIACEU, Saboor shah Chairman Insaf Front, Nasrullah Khan President PACCA, Zakir Farooq President SEAP, Naheed ur Rehman President ATTAP, Dr Imran, President Progressive, Ali Lashari, President Skyways, Mr Jillani President FEENA, Dr Azeem, President Friends, Nayar Jillani, President United Officers, Safdar Anjum, General Secretary SSA, Nasir Mahdi Janjua, General Secretary CBA, Buksh Rind, and Ashraf Sindho General Secretary Insaaf Front attended the meeting.

TAPI project to help in resolving energy crisis: Jam Kamal

ISLAMABAD, Dec 12 (NNI): Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal has said Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India will help Pakistan in overcoming its energy crisis.

Speaking in a state-run Radio programme, he said: “This ground breaking ceremony of TAPI project is scheduled on 13th December and Prime Minister will visit Turkmenistan to attend this ceremony.

Turkmenistan has vast reserves of natural gas and this project will enable Pakistan to reduce its energy crisis by utilizing these natural resources. This project will also benefit all member states; Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Afghanistan is responsible for the security of this pipeline on its land because it receives 500 million dollars in this regards. This project will provide cheap gas to Pakistan and India.”