ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party would strongly resist government's plan to privatise the loss-making Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan International Airlines and power distribution companies.

"We won't let anyone to sell these public entities behind the door," said PPP Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, who is also the chairman of Senate's Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Privatisation. He warned the federal government to refrain from its policy of privatising national institutions otherwise it would have to face tough time from the main opposition party.

Mandviwalla, who has also been former finance minister, said, "The privatisation of national strategic institutions will be a violation of the Constitution". PPP, in collaboration with the relevant political, labour and civil society organisations, would lead a protest drive against the ill-advised move of the government to sell national assets including PIA, PSM and Discos to the private sector, he added. Chairman of the Senate's body on Finance regretted that no legislation was done to protect the labourers of the public sector entities (PSEs) that would be privatised to the private sector. "Any law which doesn't have the representatives of labourers is unacceptable," he said.

Pakistan had assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to privatise the loss-making PSEs including PIA, PSM and power Discos. "The government will privatise national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) through strategic sale by March 2016," said an official of the Privatisation Commission of Pakistan while talking to The Nation. He further said that government had also plan to privatise the Pakistan Steel Mills by the end of June 2016.

Giving further details, he informed that the government had also committed to sell the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) during the ongoing financial year 2015-2016. Pakistan had given a written assurance to the IMF that privatisation of Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) would be completed by March-end 2016. Similarly, the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) and Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) would be privatised by June-end 2016. Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) will be privatised by end-September 2016. The process of privatising other power companies Hyderabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Sukkur, and Multan electric supply companies (Hesco, Pesco, Qesco, Sepco, and Mepco) would be completed by late 2016. Northern Power Generation Company Limited’s (NPGCL) transaction is expected to complete by end-December 2015. Jamshoro Power Generation Company Limited’s (JPCL) transaction would be completed by end-April 2016. Larkana Power Generation Company Limited (LPGCL) and Central Power Generation Company Limited (CPGCL) are expected to be sold by end-December 2015.

The PML-N government had started the privatisation programme of 68 public sector entities after assuming the power in June 2013. "Privatisation is aimed at improving efficiency and higher profitability, which holds both financial and social benefits.

By privatising such entities, the government will no longer have to suffer an annual loss of around Rs500 billion due to provision of subsidies - instead this amount can be better spent on health, education and infrastructure initiatives for the benefit of the public. Additionally, privatization also benefits the employees, as the private sector brings in better management systems, higher profitability, higher salaries and overall better employment conditions", said Muhammad Zubair, Minister of State/Chairman Privatisation Commission.

The government's ambitious privatisation plan had to face a major blow when the deal to sell out Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC) was cancelled when the cheque of successful buyer was dishonoured and the government had to end the deal.

The government, in its programme, had privatised profit-making public sector entities, including Habib Bank Limited (HBL), United Bank Limited (UBL), Allied Bank Limited (ABL), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and National Power Construction Company.