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Privatisation of national assets

The era of the government as the biggest employer has been over in other countries since long, but it still prevails in Pakistan, thanks to the inability of the political leadership who matters in this country. All the business concerns, including power suppliers, airlines and big organizations work as independent entities and are responsible for their profit and loss accounts in developed economies. In Pakistan’s case, the government as the biggest employer depicts the worse scenario where appointments are made solely on political grounds in large-scale organizations. The organizations, which should be the assets of the nation, have become unending liabilities. The only way out is the privatization, but political expediencies are the big hurdles in the way. Earlier, the current government tried to privatize once the superb airline of the world, the Pakistan International Airline, but the plan was shelved after death of few employees who were protesting against the selloff. PIA was the role model for many airway companies, but now is inundated in quick sand of corruption mismanagement and financial losses.The United States, Canada, Britain, Germany and all other developed nations have airlines in private sectors. The corporate sector is the biggest employer in the developed economies, but Pakistan has missed every opportunity to push its way to follow the suit. As a result, the backward economies are progressing with leaps and bounds and Pakistan is struggling to ward off its losses.

The Pakistan Steel Mills, which was established by former USSR in 70s, was the promise of a bright future of this country. But it is also facing losses to the tunes of billions of rupees per year and is burden on the national economy. Political interference as marred its utility as the country’s asset. Reports suggest four people are employed for one post due to political reasons. As a result, the government is unable to inject hard-earned taxpayers’ money in it on regular basis. Whenever the government tried to privatize it, the employees started protest and the result is the failure not only of the government, but also of the nation. A third entity is the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited which has also lost its utility in commercial terms. Now the government wants to sell all the three, the PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and the Oil and Gas Development Company, up to June this year to offload its burden to some extent.

Earlier during the Pakistan People’s Party tenure, the steel mill was offered on a plate to a Saudi investor for peanuts. Despite the odd situation facing the three entities, they still hold grounds as the national assets which should not be sold on throwaway prices. A good price and transparency in the process of privatisation should be maintained at any cost.

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