The government has delayed the privatisation process of power distribution companies (Discos) due to the fear that Discos workers could also observe countrywide strikes.

“Process of privatising power distribution companies has been delayed after the strike of workers’ unions of Pakistan International Airlines a few weeks back,” said Minister of State and chairman Privatization Commission (PC) Mohammad Zubair while addressing a press conference.

“As the government is revisiting its strategy with respect to DISCOs, the necessary clearance has not been received by PC,” he said and added: “Once the government has confirmed a strategy for DISCOs, a decision on the fate of privatization of FESCO as well as other DISCOs shall be made.”

Talking about registration of Pakistan Airways Limited (PAL) as a new company with an authorized capital of Rs100 billion, he said, “This is too early to say anything about PAL; let’s wait for a few weeks, when things will start to unfold”. He added that there is no concrete plan how much investment would be made in it (PAL).

Zubair said that federal government would soon reply to the letter of Sindh government regarding its questions on Pakistan Steel Mills. “Once the matter with GoS (Government of Sindh) is closed, the transaction shall be finalised within 4-5 months thereafter,” he added.

Sharing privatization transactions completed by the incumbent government, the minister of state said that government had privatised five institution: HBL, UBL, ABL, Pakistan Petroleum Limited and NPCC. Meanwhile, there are currently 18 ongoing transactions at PC including PIA, power sector entities, PSM, SLIC and SME Bank.

He clarified that chairman and secretary, PC, have no independent powers to direct or influence any transaction. All transactions pass through a long process that included Evaluation Committee, Transaction Committee, Board of the Privatisation Commission and Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP).

He said that there are other forums that are taken on board at various stages, including National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for submission of documents.

He further said that transparency has been ensured in privatization of state-owned entities. “To make the entire process of privatization transparent, certain forums have been working to scrutinize the process on each stage”, he added. He said PIA, PSM and Fesco remained on govt’s active list of privatization.

APP adds: “The two state owned entities (Fesco and PSM) are incurring huge losses to the national exchequer, therefore the government is determined to privatize these two SOEs”, Muhammad Zubair said.

To a question, Muhammad Zubair said the transaction of PIA would be held in a free, fair and transparent manner and all its assets would not be under valued.