According to newspaper reports, the government is injecting Rs600 billion annually into the public sector enterprises to keep them in operational mode and a report from the International Monetary Fund suggests that mismanagement costs Pakistan Rs 3.3 trillion a year. Irony is that the money is thrice the amount of the costly loans which the country has been receiving from the Fund under extended facility programme whereas Rs 3.3 trillion is more than the total collections which the supreme tax body of the country receives from taxpayers in a year. However, both are separate stories but point out the same reason for losses and that is mismanagement. The losses can be averted once the management is improved. According to the Privatisation Commission chairman, a big challenge before the government is to privatise the loss-making entities, but the privatisation process is also complicated. The political parties oppose the privatisation programme for political reasons. The introduction of reforms in the loss making entities is a long-term process which mostly ended in failure in the past.
The stakeholders always think at individual level, but the matter needs collective resolve if it is causing collateral damage. The political parties and their members in the assemblies have major interests in perks and grants but little interest in public affairs. The privatization of the Pakistan Steel Mills, the Pakistan International Airlines and several other organizations is the need of the hour, but the situation should not be exploited for vested interests. The PIA owns billions of dollars property within Pakistan and abroad and decision to its privatization should be taken after careful consideration. Again the matter is simple but process is difficult. If the national interest reigns supreme, there is no need to wait for another year to decide the selloff. Once a decision has been taken, let the process go to its logical end.
There is a big challenge before the government to take unpopular and tough decisions when it is heading toward another general elections. The selloff of the public sector enterprises will lower financial burden on the government – that means selloff process will not only generate additional income, but will also rid the country of the loss making organizations. The government will also be in a position to show better performance in the field of trade and industry. There is also need to coordinate with the private sector to put the country on the path of development.In the present situation, the taxpayers money is wasted away without any valid reasons. Commonsense must prevail.