ISLAMABAD - The government on Friday informed a parliamentary committee that it would complete the privatisation of seven public sector entities within next one and a half years. Senior officials of the Privatization Commission gave detailed briefing to the Senate standing committee on privatization. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini here at the Parliament House.

The committee was informed that Cabinet Committee on Privatization had shortlisted 41 public sector entities (PSEs) for the privatization. However, in the first phase, the government would privatize seven PSEs in next one and a half years. Officials further informed that government is working for privatization process of seven PSEs and following the timelines.

Giving the details, the official said that PSEs included First Women Bank, two RLNG power plants including Haveli Bhadar Shah and Balloki, government’s 18.5 percent shares in Mari Petroleum Company Limited through stock exchange, Lakhra Coal Mines and well as Services International Hotel Lahore and Jinnah Convention Centre Islamabad. The committee has directed the government not to terminate any employee of the PSEs while privatizing. The government should ensure the job security of the employees even after the privatization of the PSEs.

Government would present revival plan of PSM in next meeting of ECC

The committee was informed that government would present the revival plan of Pakistan Steel Mills in next meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet. The government would decide about privatization of the Pakistan Steel Mills after reviewing the report of the revival plan. The official of the Privatization Commission has also informed the parliamentary body on pending amount of $800 million from Etisalat against privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). Secretary Privatization Commission Rizwan Malik informed the committee that government is actively working to recover $800 million from UAE based company by resolving the pending issues.

The committee was told Etisalat had defaulted on $800 million it owed Pakistan on account of privatization proceeds of PTCL. In July 2005, Etisalat had bought 26% shares in PTCL with management control at a price of $2.6 billion. After coming to know the second lowest bid was actually $1.4 billion, the UAE-based firm tried to backtrack from the offer. Pakistan had informed the company that it cannot transfer the remaining 33-34 properties and that it would have to pay the outstanding dues by adjusting the value of these properties. According to Pakistan’s assessment the value of these properties was not more than $88 million. However, the Etisalat had refused to accept the prices of properties by saying prices are very low. Etisalat is working for revaluation of the properties of PTCL. The committee was told that Etisalat would take some time to finalize its own valuation of the 33 outstanding properties.

The secretary privatization informed the committee that so far 172 transactions were completed and Rs 648.9 billion were raised by the privatization of entities in last 18 years. The committee has also discussed the report on the privatization of federal lodges Murree in 1999. The committee has raised serious objections over the privatization of these lodges. The committee meeting was attended among others by Senator Abida Muhammad Khan, Secretary Privatisation Rizwan Malik, DG Privatisation Commission Samreen Zahra and other senior officials of the Privatization Commission.