Cabinet committee shelves privatisation plan for PSE’s

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza GillaniPESHAWAR: Setting aside proposed privatisation of eight national level organisations including Pakistan Railways, Steel Mills, PIA and WAPDA, the federal cabinet in its meeting held with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani decided to take steps for the early revival of these loss making public sector enterprises on war-footings.

The Federal Cabinet, after renaming of the Province as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa held its first ever meeting at Peshawar on Wednesday. Beside others, Governor Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Barrister Masud Kausar and Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti also attended the meeting, which has taken stock of the existing situation, especially the implementation of federal governments agenda.Briefing media about the decisions taken in the meeting, Information Minister Dr Firdaus Ashaq Awan said that the cabinet has rejected privatisation of eight organisations and has on the contrary decided to work towards their early revival.

In this respect, the affairs of Pakistan Steel Mills remain on top of the agenda whereas the cabinet unanimously decided to constitute a committee to carry out its restructuring and reforms. The committee was directed to frame its proposals along with the appointment of its Chief Executive Officer and completion of its Board of Directors within a week.

In response to a question, the federal information minister confirmed that a bail-out package for the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills was also under discussion but it was linked with the appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and completion of Board of Directors. She reminded that so far the present government has already released an amount of Rs30 billion for the revival of the organisation and intends to further support the entity in the light of its strategic and economic importance.

However, she said, unless a strategy for administrative and managerial revival is not framed, such financial bailout plans will not yield the required results. On these grounds, the bail out package was delayed. She, however, added “without a mega injection, revival of such entities will be a difficult task.” Answering another question, she informed that for revival of such national level institutions, the prime minister has announced chairing cabinet meetings on a weekly basis. After finalising a strategy for Pakistan Steel Mills, the government would go for similar steps in favour of other public sector entities.

The federal cabinet approved reconstruction of infrastructure with an estimated 270m Saudi Riyals in Malakand Division, North and South Waziristan and Bajaur Agencies of the tribal belt. This amount, she said has been released by the Saudi government as a loan. In response to a question, she said, “there is no justification to term this amount as an alternate to US pledges in accordance with the Kerry Logger Bill as it has been given by a friend country. In response to a question, Dr Firdaus has said that contacts with the US at the government level are in progress and smooth coordination regarding US involvement in development sectors and revival of infrastructure in terrorism hit areas is likely to continue.

She however, avoided to further comment when questioned over the likelihood of problems being escalated further due to the recent suspension of US aid to Pakistan. In a bid to improve the agriculture production and its standards, the federal cabinet allowed signing of an agreement with the Brazilian government. Information Minister said that Brazil is known for its quality agriculture products and its exports.

Likewise the cabinet also approved signing of an agreement with Egypt seeking cooperation in the agricultural sector.Regarding the problem of escalating inflation and rising food prices, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti termed it the responsibility of the provincial government and assured to fulfill his government’s commitment in this regard.

However, the cabinet was informed that prices of 19 items in accordance to Consumer Price Index were increased and prices of 10 items reduced. Premier directed the concerned departments for taking active steps to reduce the prices of such commodities.The cabinet was briefed by the finance division regarding the implementation of decisions and the processes, which were termed satisfactory.

Dr. Firdaus Ashaq Awan said that PSDP handed over 114 decisions to the finance division for implementation in which 100 decisions have been implemented so far. Similarly the cabinet also expressed satisfaction over the implementation of Economic Coordination Councils (ECC) decision, taken in its meeting held on December 1st 2011. – PT