ISLAMABAD   -   The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has welcomed the initiative of the current government to accelerate the process of privatisation of State Owned Entities (SOEs) as many such entities had become a big burden on the national exchequer and handing them over to the private hands was the optimum solution to save the taxpayers’ money from unnecessary wastage.

ICCI President Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that the SOEs including Pakistan Steel Mills, PIA, Pakistan Railways and others were a big drain on the taxpayers’ money as government was spending billions of rupees to keep them afloat.

He said that early privatisation of these SOEs was the best choice to save the national economy from further troubles.

He said that government was spending Rs500-600 billion annually on loss-making SOEs to keep them in running condition that was not a sustainable option.

He said that instead of spending this huge amount on bailing out SOEs, government could achieve far better results by spending this amount on health, education and social sector development.

The ICCI President said that according to an assessment of IMF, the combined accumulated losses of SOEs in Pakistan including PIA, Pak Steel Mills, power sector entities and others have exceeded Rs1.2 trillion constituting 4 percent of our GDP.

He said that PTI government has not been able to bring any significant reforms in loss-making SOEs so far and added that the best solution of this issue was to privatise them that would improve their performance and save billions of rupees being spent on keeping them in running condition.

ICCI Senior Vice President Rafat Farid and Vice President Iftikhar Anwar Sethi, said that loss-making SOEs have borrowed 36 percent more from the banks during the outgoing fiscal year as compared to the previous year.

They said that as per SBP report, banks have provided more than Rs329 billion to SOEs during 2018-19, which was a record borrowing in a single year.

They said if this huge amount of credit was provided to the private sector, it could have caused significant boost in the business and investment activities.

They said that privatisation of banks and PTCL have shown improved performance of these entities and urged that government should speed up the process of privatisation of all loss-making SOEs to turn them around and achieve good results for the economy.