ISLAMABAD - The government has decided not to privatise the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) in the first stage, as it would improve their financial conditions before privatisation.

A meeting of the Board of Privatisation Commission (PC) was convened by the Chairman Privatisation Commission Muhammad Mian Soomro to review privatisation programme and to finalise entities which are required to be included in the list of active privatisation programme.

Sources said government has decided to delay privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills, the country’s biggest industrial complex, and PIA, the loss-making national airline for some time. The government would restructure these loss-making entities before privatisation. They further said that government was delaying the privatisation of PIA and PSM in order to avoid resistance from the political parties.

According to details, the first of the proposed plan will focus on the privatisation of 15-20 state-owned units, prioritising efforts to privatise SME Bank Ltd (SBL) and First Women Bank. The government would privatise those entities in which it would not face pressure from the political parties. The government is finalising its privatisation programme before the arrival of IMF team, which would visit Pakistan from November 7 to discuss the new loan programme.

Sources added that meeting also discussed establishment of Pakistan Sovereign Fund or Wealth Fund to run the PSEs including PIA, PSM and others. As per plan, these PSEs would be run by appointing and empowering non-political and autonomous boards instead of concerned ministries. It holds and manages selected commercial assets of the government and undertakes strategic investments on behalf of the nation.

The review was conducted after consulting all relevant ministries and due consideration was given to the feedback provided by them. The board members gave their suggestions to include and exclude the SOEs the next privatisation programme. The proposed privatisation programme will be presented to the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP) for its decision.

Chairman Privatisation Commission directed authorities concerned to leave no stone unturned to recover the outstanding dues receivable from the buyers of SOEs that were privatised in the 1990s.It must be recalled that approximately Rs.3.9 billion are yet to be received from the defaulter buyers of various state-owned entities. The Chairman PC also directed to fix the responsibility and approach all relevant investigative bodies to reach the truth and rectify the problem.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP) is scheduled to be held today to consider the proposals and suggestions of the Privatisation Commission Board.