ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Wednesday underscored the need of accelerating the process of privatization of loss-making state owned enterprises (SOEs).

The minister held a meeting with Abid Hussain Bhayo, Federal Minister for Privatisation, at Finance Division. Chairman Privatization Commission Saleem Ahmad also attended the meeting. The proposed privatization plan was discussed in the meeting. Finance minister underscored the need of accelerating the process of privatisation of loss making SOEs for bringing in greater level of efficiency, productivity and competiveness in their performance and enhancing the overall revenue base of the country. Finance minister assured full support in resolving all pending issues that are impeding privatization of loss making entities.

The previous government of PTI had moved the privatization programme at snail pace due to the lengthy process and Covid-19. The PTI government had completed the privatisation of only two public sector entities including Heavy Electric Complex (HEC) and Services International Hotel Lahore during its more than three and a half years tenure. The government was simultaneously working on privatization of 20 PSEs. However, it has completed privatization of only two PSEs so far since August 2018 when the incumbent government took charge. The government had projected to generate Rs252 billion from the privatization proceeds in the current fiscal year.

The HEC was owned by State Engineering Corporation (SEC) under the administrative control of Ministry of Industries and Production (MOIP). The winning bid of IMS at Rs. 99.999 per share will result in Rs. 1.4 billion of proceeds for the government. Earlier, the government had also privatized Services International Hotel besides selling few government owned properties in last three years. Services International Hotel, Lahore transaction was also successfully completed and it was sold to M/s. Faisal Town Pvt. Ltd at Rs1.951 billion after open bidding. In the last fiscal year, the government had sold 10 properties, which had generated an amount of Rs920 million.

Officials in Privatisation Commission said that PML-N would follow the privatization programme, which was started by the PTI government. According to the officials, privatization of the SME Bank, the First Women Bank Limited, the Jinnah Convention Centre, and the House Building Finance Corporation Limited is in advanced stages. They said that privatization of aforementioned entities would be completed in next few months.