SPEAKING at the National Defence University in Islamabad on Tuesday, Prime Minister Gilani did well to point attention towards eight chronically loss-making enterprises draining Rs 220 billion each year. For a cash-strapped economy like Pakistans, it is more than it can afford. He mentioned PIA, Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills and WAPDA as the organisations that have veered off their track and were now wasting a tremendous amount of resources. His assurance that he had asked Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh to inject a good deal of buoyancy into PSM and WAPDA and rebuild them along modern lines while maintaining meritocracy and transparency is commendable. His concern is certainly welcome; however, this reformation or overhaul for that matter needs to be done quickly given the deplorable state of these white elephants, now on the brink of total ruin. And one expects the PM to follow up on his words with definite action and not merely passing statements. Not long ago he had pledged to turn these parasites into profit making enterprises yet nothing happened amid a perception that such boasts were intended only for media consumption. Like elsewhere, it is corruption and mismanagement that have been the bane of our public sector units; yet the government has only been looking the other way for over two years now. Thankfully, Mr Gilani did not talk about privatising them, though the state of PSEs has prompted many to argue for it. We have seen how the process is open to exploitation and financial misdemeanour. In the past precious possessions have been sold at throwaway prices to the bidders willing to grease palms. Besides, most importantly, these are national and strategic assets that must be run by the state in a decent and profitable way. If run in an efficient way, not only would they generate enough revenue and reduce the fiscal deficit but also assure better living standards for the people. The government needs to act with a sense of commitment and act now. Besides, it needs to give up its dangerous tendency of condoning corruption in its multiple forms. The present malaise in the PSEs precisely stems from this mindset. And, therefore, it is hard to buy the PPPs oft-repeated mantra of having inherited this corrupt system from the previous regime. Doubtless, it was corrupt, but wasnt it its duty to end this demeaning legacy.