ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave approval for the privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines and the Pakistan Steel Mills.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the meeting of the federal cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office here.

An official statement issued after the meeting said: “The cabinet ratified the recommendations of the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases in its meeting held on February 22 and Cabinet Committee on Privatisation held on February 16.”

Last month, chairing a CCoP meeting, Prime Minister Abbasi had given the formal go-ahead for the privatisation of the PIA and the PSM.

“After a detailed presentation on [the] PIA and the discussion that followed, the CCoP gave the go-head to the proposal for initiating the restructuring process in [the] PIA,” an official statement had said after the CCoP meeting.

The statement said: “It was decided during the meeting to segregate the core and non-core functions of the organisation.”

The CCoP meeting had discussed in detail various administrative, financial and employees-related issues of the PSM.

A proposal for the PSM entering into a “concession” agreement with investors, on revenue-sharing basis, also came under discussion.

Prime Minister Abbasi had then directed that all options should be explored and a comprehensive plan should also be worked out to address the PSM employees’ related issues.

A participant of the cabinet meeting told The Nation that the government would retain 51 per cent of the PIA shares.

“Other issues will be sorted out with the buyers of the shares,” he said.

He added: “The matter of [the] PSM will be dealt with separately with consultations.”

The opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have vowed to stop the PIA and PSM privatisation terming it anti-workers’ step.

At the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Abbasi said as a result of the “untiring efforts of the government, power generation had significantly increased since 2013.”

He said provision of uninterrupted power supply had remained the priority of the present government in order to meet domestic, commercial and industrial requirements.

“The cabinet expressed satisfaction over the power situation and resolved to provide uninterrupted power to the consumers during the upcoming summer season and Ramzan,” said the official statement.

It said: “The meeting also appreciated the efforts of the incumbent as well as former minister for power for addressing sectoral issues relating to power. It was emphasised during the meeting to lay greater focus on addressing administrative and management issues vis-a-vis transmission, distribution and recovery of power dues.”

Earlier, secretary Power Division briefed the cabinet on projections of electricity demand and supply and the available generation capacity for catering to the power requirements during the summer season particularly during Ramzan.

It was informed that additional power would be added to the national grid from Tarbela-IV and Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-power projects during the next few months, which would further augment the existing generation capacity.

“The meeting was also briefed about the current load-management plan,” the statement said.

The federal cabinet accorded approval for signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Somalia and Pakistan for rendering the National Database and Registration Authority’s services to Somalia.

Approval was granted to initiate legislation on Geographical Indications Protection Bill, 2017.

Geographical indications is a form of intellectual property right, which identifies a product originating from a specific area, whose quality or reputation is attributable to its place of origin.

Possible GIs for Pakistan can include basmati rice, ajrak and pashmina shawls, Peshawari chappal, truck art, apricots, handicrafts and ornaments.

The cabinet approved appointment of presiding officer, special court (offences in banks), Islamabad.

In order to discourage cigarette smoking, the cabinet approved banning of sale of loose cigarettes by amending the “Prohibition of Sale of Cigarettes to Minors Rules, 2010”.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz briefed the cabinet in detail regarding measures to enhance cotton production and exports from Pakistan.

The cabinet approved transfer of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee and cotton-related matters from Ministry of Textile Industry to Ministry of National Food Security and Research.