ISLAMABAD - The fate of national flag carrier (PIA) hangs in the balance as government has still not able to woo opposition for adopting unanimous approach for its privatisation.

The government, in yesterday’s National Assembly session, has sought two more days to evolve consensus on a ‘controversial’ bill regarding PIA.

Avoiding to lock horns with opposition, the government once again deferred to refer ‘Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) bill, 2016’ to joint sitting of parliament.

It was decided to hold further discussion with opposition with an aim to pass ‘PIAC (Conversion) bill, 2016’ with consensus before referring it to joint sitting.

The government side, three days before, had also made a failed attempt to refer the bill to joint session of the parliament but changed its decision after facing opposition’s strong reaction.

It is being presumed that the government will make an attempt to convince opposition for privatisation of PIA but if failed to gain opposition’s support then it would opt to bulldoze this bill in the joint sitting of Parliament. It is also expected that President will sign the bill into law on the same day of its passage from the join sitting.

All opposition parties are so far showing very hard stance over the privatisation and seemingly not in a mood to retreat.

The present government with its existing strength in Senate (27 Senators) failed to pass the PIAC bill (2015) from Senate.

The house also welcomed Speaker of Tajikistan Representatives Majlis Shakukur Jon Zuhurov leading a parliamentary delegation. The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle welcoming the guest said that this visit would further enhance existing cordial relations between the two brotherly countries.

The house also passed two bills, including Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which aimed to pave way for transparent composition of PMDC.

According to the bill, the Management Committee will comprise five members who shall be selected from the fields of medicines, finance and the law. The federal government will nominate one of them as the Chairperson of the said committee. The minister said no one would now become member of the Council.

The house also passed ‘the futures markets bill, 2016’.

GOVT YET TO DECIDE ON NEW AIRCRAFT FOR PAL

The govt has yet to decide whether it will buy new aircraft for the newly formed Pakistan Airways Limited (PAL) or it will acquire planes on lease.

Minister in-charge of the Aviation Division, in a written reply to National Assembly told that it has not yet been decided, whether Pakistan Airways would purchase new aircraft or lease them. He said no new aircraft were available in the market in at least a year’s time. it is expected, he said, the new airline will acquire planes on lease, whenever it will be launched.

Last year, the government, reportedly, promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to sell Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by June 2016.

The government launched Pakistan Airways, last month, as a step to privatise Pakistan International Airlines. But the high ups are still uncertain on whether or not the company would be a new entity or subsidiary. Answering a question that whether it is possible to bring the Pakistan International Airlines at par with other International Airlines in the near future, Minister In-charge of the Aviation Division, said that government is making all out endeavour to make the national carrier, self-reliant, viable and profitable world class airline by reducing its losses.

Besides various steps, restructuring of PIA by converting the airline into a public limited company is planned to be done through PIA (Conversion) Bill 2016, the officials told National Assembly.

After promulgation of the Bill 2016, PIA Board of Directors will make their corporate decisions freely and independently without the interference of the Federal Government, reply said.

Answering another question the Aviation Division officials said that PIA owns two hotels under PIAIL (Pakistan International Airline Investment Limited). The Roosevelt Hotel is situated in New York, USA, while Hotel Scribe, is in Paris, France.

During last five years the Roosevelt hotel earned a net profit of $16775000. In 2010 the profit was $3615000 and in 2011, it was $3791000. During next year the profit was $3208000, while in 2013 the profit remained at $2438000. In 2014 a total profit of $3723000 was earned.

Pakistan International Airline Corporation owns Airport hotel situated at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.

Answering another question official said that there are total 27 airports in the country, while 15 are non-operational.  Jiwani, Omara, Sibi, Mangla, Bhagtanwala in Sargodha, Mianwali, Sehwan Sharif, Mirpurkhas Sanghar, Badin Talhar, Kohat, Khuzdar, Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Bannu, and Parachinar are the airports which are not under use.

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN & Atif Khan