Privatization

By Haque, Mohammed Zahirul | Economic Review, August 1996 | Go to article overview

Privatization


Haque, Mohammed Zahirul, Economic Review


A seminar, held on August 15 in Karachi on "Privatisation - its impact on Pakistan" which was organised jointly by the Old Students Association of the institute of Business Administration and United States Information Service (USIS) threw up for discussion controversial points with regard to the philosophy and rationale of 'Privatisation'. The audience were unanimous on the point that the official policies in this regard were not very clear. Emphasis were made on transparency, sovereignty of the country, clear objectives and also allied matters.

Mr. Abdullah Yusuf, the secretary of Pakistan Privatisation Commission, now a full-fledged ministry, gave a brief history of privatisation in Pakistan, and its success underlining that in Pakistan ninety public sector enterprises have been privatised in the short span of five years. He claimed that the labour has also been convinced of the need of privatisation. He also enumerated the problems and hurdles in the way of privatisation. He, however, admitted that some mistakes were committed by the Privatisation Commission in this regard, but "We will have to take measures to accelerate the process of privatisation". He pointed out that the economy of the country was at stake and needed bold steps, because public sector had failed to achieve the desired result. He informed in this context that Karachi Electric Supply is going to be privatised as a single unit.

Dr. Abdul Hafiz Pasha, former minister of commerce in the caretaker government of Moin Qureshi, now Director of the Institute of Business Administration termed the public sector 'enterprises inefficient' and on the verge of collapse. Privatisation should have improved efficiency, enhanced quality, increased production and reduced prices, without which the transfer of the status of the enterprises from public into private was a meaningless exercise. Dr. Pasha particularly emphasised 'national sovereignty' which ought to be safeguarded at all costs. He rejected the idea expressed by Mr. Yusuf that the price escalation was inevitable at the initial stage, and exposed the reasons which gave rise to the increase in the price of cement just after the privatisation of a number of cement factories.

While commenting on the privatisation of national infrastructure assets, he put a question "should we hand over our vital strategic assets to others for "getting money". He also identified "some other areas of concern" in the privatisation process, and exhorted not to keep eyes shut on the social aspects. …

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