ISLAMABAD: The first meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Privatization was held under the chairmanship of Chairman Committee Senator Shamim Afridi at the Parliament House. In addition to the working procedures and performance of the Ministry of Privatization and its subsidiaries, the Standing Committee reviewed in detail the Privatization Commission Amendment Bill 2021, which was referred to the Senate House on June 23, 2021.
In the committee meeting, the Secretary, Ministry of Privatization briefed the Committee on the organizational structure of the Ministry, which is divided into Privatization Division and Privatization Commission. The committee was told that it was formed in 2017 as an independent organization. 99% of the proceeds from the privatization process are used by the federal government, of which 10% is used for poverty alleviation and 90% for government loans.
Senator Sabir Shah expressed reservations over the privatization process, to which a ministry official said the structure of the privatization process was approved by the federal cabinet. Senator Sabir Shah questioned whether there is a comparison between the market price and the reference price before bidding. World-class financial advisers are appointed to evaluate the institutions, ministry officials said. The committee was informed that the privatization process is fully transparent and the reference goes through the PC Board, CCOP and Cabinet for price approval.
Senator Irfan Siddiqui raised an important question as to who proposes decisions regarding privatization of institutions. On which the Committee was informed that the initial proposal is received by the Cabinet Committee.
Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar recommended reforms in the privatization process, saying that unused land is a valuable asset of our country which should be used for the economic benefit of the country.
Senator Muhammad Qasim said that a time should be fixed from the time of approval of privatization of institutions to the time of sale so that projects could be completed by utilizing the proceeds of privatization in a timely manner. He said that despite the approval, the revenue from privatization is not spent for a long time and it also makes a big difference in the devaluation of the rupee.
Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said that the approval of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) regarding the approval of privatization of institutions could not be ignored. He questioned which decision would prevail if there was a dispute over approval between the cabinet and the Council of Common Interests (CCI). The Secretary, Ministry of Privatization said that the process of privatization is not taken forward in case of dispute. Senator Rana Mahmood Al-Hassan said that government institutions are very valuable assets.
Referring to the Privatization Commission Amendment Bill 2021, which was referred to the Senate House on June 23, 2021, the members of the committee said that since the working papers were received late last evening, the bill could not be reviewed. Awareness should be sought and reviewed in detail in the next meeting of the committee.
In today’s meeting of the standing committee, Senators Anwar-ul-Haq, Mian Raza Rabbani, Rana Mahmood Al-Hassan, Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Muhammad Qasim, Anwar Lal Din, Irfan Siddiqui, Maulvi Faiz Muhammad besides Privatization Minister Mian Muhammad Soomro, Secretary Privatization and related institutions Officials attended.