ISLAMABAD    -    The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) Friday has directed to expedite the privatisation of SME Bank limited and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Investment Limited. The CCoP in its meeting held with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has not agreed the proposal from Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (EERA) for delisting of its 17 properties from the 32 assets being processed for sale by Privatisation Commission.

The CCoP also took up privatisation of SME Bank Limited as decided by an earlier CCoP meeting in October last year, and approved a transaction structure submitted by Privatisation Commission for the privatisation of the bank. Earlier, the CCoP was told that the transaction structure had been reviewed and recommended by a transaction committee constituted by the Privatisation Commission and comprising PC Board Members, Finance Division, State Bank of Pakistan and SME Bank which met four times before coming up with a comprehensive transaction structure put to CCoP for consideration and approval. The Privatisation Commission also shared with the CCoP the pre-qualification criteria reviewed and approved by the PC Board for the prospective bidders.

The CCoP also discussed privatisation of PIA-Investment Limited and approved a proposal for the constitution of a task force to examine and process all necessary formalities for an early disposal of the PIA properties, including the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and Hotel Scribe in Paris. Under the decision, the task force would be headed by Privatisation Commission Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro and include Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis & HRD Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Secretary Privatisation Commission and Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance as well as legal and financial consultants on the Roosevelt Hotel Corp and any other official deemed necessary to be co-opted by the Task Force.

The CCoP also instructed the PIA Management to present to the CCoP in its next meeting the findings of the feasibility study conducted by it in pursuance of a CCoP decision earlier this year to carry out an appraisal of various management and financial options for gaining optimal returns from the Roosevelt Hotel. The CCoP also directed the PIA management to update the Committee on monthly basis regarding the progress of the work and also advised the airline management to carry out its plan in coordination with Aviation Division.

The CCoP took up a proposal from Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (EERA) for the delisting of 17 properties until June 2020 when the EERA would be subsumed into the National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) as per a government decision already taken to transform National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) into a vibrant and self-sufficient entity. The EERA was of the view that deferring the privatisation of its assets till June 2020 would allow sufficient time for a possible legislation for incorporating these properties into the National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF).

The Privatisation Commission told the CCoP that the 17 properties belonging to EERA had been picked up for privatisation in pursuance of a federal cabinet decision of 7th March 2019 and subsequent identification by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the Prime Minister of 32 properties belonging to nine ministries, divisions and organisations which themselves had proposed these properties for sale and also forwarded relevant authority letters to the Privatisation Commission for further processing. The PC also submitted that it had already hired a financial adviser for the sale of the 32 properties and withdrawal of properties as being proposed by the EERA would adversely affect the whole privatisation process besides sending negative signals to potential buyers and investors. The CCoP discussed the issue in detail and after input from members did not agree to the proposal from EERA for delisting of its properties and advised the Authority to complete all codal formalities still pending at its end to let the privatisation process move ahead.