ISLAMABAD  - The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Sunday lauded the decision of the government to sell shares of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) with management control. Privatisation is the integral part of the on-going process of economic reforms which must be carried out very cautiously, it said.

Sale of shares and transfer of management control of the bleeding state-owned entities (SOEs) will help government raise billions to reduce budget deficit besides saving Rs 500 billion per annum needed to keep these white elephants alive, said Naima Ansari, Vice President FPCCI.

Speaking to the business community of Islamabad, she stressed on the transparency so that history of steel mills could not be repeated which kept privatisation process stalled for nine long years.  Naima Ansari said that defaulters and developers should be kept away from the whole process and authorities should try to avoid charges of nepotism. The human and strategic cost must be carefully weighed, as some enterprises are vital for national security while others are critical for providing employment, she stressed.

The government needs to dispel the impression that international lenders force developing countries to sell national assets at throwaway prices.  Ms Ansari said that privatisation would not be of any help if policy of supporting tax dodgers, assisting looters of public wealth and wastage of precious resources continued. The country will soon have to carry the begging bowl again if funds rose from sale of PIA and FESCO are wasted to unleash another era of socioeconomic and political instability, she warned.  The FBR can easily collect around Rs 6 trillion in taxes to eliminate all deficits and change the entire economic scene but it prefers to collect only a fraction of that amount.  Pakistan does not need any internal or external borrowing; all the country needs is a leadership that shun politics of plots, permits, SROs, exemptions, princely living and promoting incompetent political supporters.