Bilawal Bhutto not in favour of PIA’s privatization

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DNA

KARACHI: In a rather significant political development, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) has expressed its opposition to the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led government’s privatisation policy for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

Speaking at an event to commemorate Labour Day in Karachi, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party would try to convince Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb to operate the national carrier via the public-private partnership to revive the airline instead of privatising it.

It is to be noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on Islamabad to privatise the bleeding state-owned enterprises to revitalise the sick economy.

Meanwhile, FinMin Aurangzeb has also, on several occasions, underscored the significance of the “essential” privatisation of loss-making enterprises.

In the past, elected governments have shied away from undertaking unpopular reforms, including the sale of the flag carrier. But Pakistan, in a deep economic crisis, agreed in June 2023 to overhaul loss-making state-owned enterprises under a deal with the Fund for a $3 billion bailout.

Speaking on the issue, PPP leader and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani termed the proposed privatisation of PIA an “unconstitutional step” and said that the federal cabinet lacked the vision to make such decisions.

Rabbani further clarified that the government’s agenda of privatisation was “unacceptable” to the PPP.

Meanwhile, on the issue of PSM, Bilawal stressed that since the land belonged to the Sindh government, any and all decisions regarding the state-owned enterprise should be made with the Sindh government’s consent.

Calling for collaborative discussions between the federal and provincial governments, the PPP chairman proposed that if the federal government intended to divest from the Steel Mills, Sindh should have the opportunity to acquire and operate it more efficiently under the public-private partnership mode.