ISLAMABAD - Expressing serious concerns over the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Thursday proposed the government to opt alternative plan for revival of national flag carrier by taking financial and administrative measures.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chair of its chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil, has discussed the government’s plan to privatise the financially troubled PIA. The committee member have expressed their concerns over the privatisation and demanded to stop the selling of PIA, having assets of billions of dollars aboard.

The committee members especially belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) warned the government on privatisation of public sector entities, as this would render millions of people unemployed. The committee members were of the view that government is privatising public sector entities on the direction of International Monetary Fund (IMF) for getting $6.64 billion loan.

Speaking on the occasion, Committee chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil said that government should separate the profitable public sector entities from privatisation list. The government should bring reforms in loss-making public sector entities. No public sector entity would be spared if government adopts the policy of privatisation,

She added. The government should take the parliament into confidence before going for privatisation of PIA, the committee chairperson demanded. In her remarks, Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that privatisation of public sector entities would weak the country. The government should purchase new planes for PIA to make its profitable, as number of passengers traveling in national flag carrier is increasing with the passage of time, the lawmaker maintained.

Senator Haji Adeel accused the government for handling PIA to its blue eyed, as it is working in haste for privatisation. He came down hard on the government by closing the profitable routes of PIA. When government could run metro bus services why it could not run PIA, he questioned. 

Senator Usman Saifullah Khan said that only profitable public sector entities has been privatised throughout the world and added that government should open the close routes of national airlines to make it profitable. He asked who would purchase loss making PIA, therefore, government should bring reforms in it, he added. In her remarks, Senator Sughra Imam while quoting media reports said that government has decided to give PIA control to Lebanon’s Hurairi family.

However, PML-N Senator Nuzhat Sadiq defended the government’s move of selling 26 percent shares of PIA, as this would help to stand national flag carrier on its feet.

However, Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood informed the committee that previous government had initiated the process of privatisation of 65 public sector entities; therefore, government did not take any directions from IMF. He informed that financial advisor would be appointed in coming March that would evaluate the assets of PIA.

The privatisation of PIA would completed by December this year.

State Minister for Privatisation Mohammad Zubair assured the committee that government would ensure transparency in whole privatisation process and interest of workers would be safeguarded.

He informed that government would invite all stakeholders like parliament, civil society and media in privatisation process.