PIA to be restructured before sale

PIA to be restructured before sale

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of privatisation, restructuring of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has begun and the national flag carrier will be privatised in phases, according to Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair.

Talking to a select group of journalists, he said that flight operations would be privatised in the first phase, followed by sale of airport handling, kitchen and other services.

Subsidiaries will be created for each phase.In the present state, no one would come forward to buy and run the PIA, according to Mr Zubair who recently visited PIA headquarters in Karachi and discussed the restructuring process with the management.

The government plans to privatise 26 per cent of PIA’s shares to strategic investors by the end of December as committed to the IMF which is lending Pakistan $6.7 billion over a period of three years under an economic programme.

About the timeline of privatisation assured to the IMF, he said that in case of a delay in completion of the privatisation, the government would inform the lending agency about difficulties it was facing.

Though the government was hopeful that the transactions would be completed in 18 months, he said, process for some of the entities already approved by the commission’s board would be completed earlier than the scheduled time.

This is the most ambitious privatisation process in the country which has been put on fast track since December last year.

Mr Zubair said that privatisation process would be transparent and the government wanted all stakeholders, including politicians and employees, to take on board while taking hard decisions.

Despite stiff opposition, 2014 will see serious efforts in this regard.

The commission would try to add Rs150 billion to the national exchequer by June this year from the privatisation proceeds as desired by the finance ministry, he said.

Rejecting rumours and criticism, he said that the privatisation process would not be ‘person-oriented’.

The official said that transaction committees were being formed for those public sector entities whose privatisation had been approved by the board.

The committees will comprise board members and representatives of ministries concerned, regulators and the commission.

Mr Zubair said that a meeting of the board would be held in two weeks to discus privatisation of the Lahore Electric Supply Company, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company and Kot Addu Power Company.

About the release of $800 million by Etisalat against the privatisation of the PTCL, he said that positive results would soon come out of efforts being made by the government. He blamed the previous governments for not taking serious measures for the recovery of the amount.