ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday allowed privatising 26 percent shares of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to make it competitive and service-oriented.
Chairing a meeting at the PM Office, he directed Ministry of Privatization and Civil Aviation Division to initiate the process of privatisation in an open and transparent manner while adhering to all relevant codes and guidelines of the superior courts in this regard.
According to government, the decision has been taken to help assert the decline of the airline with the aim to provide better service to the travellers and improve the image of the national flag carrier both nationally and internationally.
PM Nawaz on the occasion said his government was fully committed to reforming and restructuring all ailing state enterprises. He directed PIA management to focus on their operational efficiency, cutting down of wasteful expenses and promotion of qualified professionals for meeting the needs of the competitive in the air transport industry.
Earlier, the prime minister was briefed about the issues confronting the PIA including declining service standards, lack of reliability and punctuality, pilferage and theft, lack of quality manpower, training and job rotation, ageing fleet, overstaffing and high loans resulting in high finance cost. He expressed his deep concern over mismanagement in its affairs and he observed that the airline has not come up to the expectations of the people. The prime minister directed the airline management to cut down on their losses in the short term to make it a viable entity for privatisation. He also directed that all policy decisions to revitalise this public sector organisation would be made by its board of governors. However, he directed to ensure transparency in the decision-making process so that public interest remains safeguarded.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Information Minister Parvez Rashid, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other senior officials. Privatisation of 26 percent of PIA’s shares to strategic investors by end-June 2014 (structural benchmark) is part of the Pakistan-IMF agreement for $6.4 billion loan program.
A couple of days ago Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal had dropped a hint to wind up financially troubled PIA, saying the move would help save Rs36 billion to national exchequer annually. He informed that government would not provide any financial assistance to PIA in future from the taxpayers’ money.