ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top investment council on Thursday directed authorities to ensure the process to privatize loss-making state-owned entities operates at a “fast pace,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said, as Islamabad moves to privatize cash-bleeding entities to mitigate its economic crisis.
In September, Pakistan’s caretaker administration had earmarked 10 cash-bleeding SOEs for privatization. The decision to privatize these enterprises, which includes Pakistan’s national flag carrier, is part of fiscal discipline plans Pakistan agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a $3 billion bailout program signed in June.
Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar chaired a high-level meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) on Thursday. The meeting was attended by the army chief, members of the federal cabinet, provincial chief ministers and senior government ministers to review the progress of various initiatives under the SIFC’s umbrella.
“The Committee reviewed and appreciated the progress on privatization of State-Owned-Enterprises and directed to keep the process at fast pace,” the PMO said.
The statement said Kakar directed all stakeholders to “vigorously pursue” SIFC initiatives through a collaborative approach so the nation could reap its dividends in the short to medium term.
Pakistan, suffering from depleting oil and gas reserves, estimates its leftover reserves will be exhausted within the next 15 years. A large chunk of the South Asian country’s import bill is spent on importing oil and gas supplies.
The SIFC deliberated upon Pakistan’s energy issues and resolved to come up with a strategy to mitigate the crisis.
“The Committee also directed to make a comprehensive strategy to address oil and gas issues in a sustainable manner by investing in relevant industries,” the PMO said.
The SIFC showed “extreme satisfaction” with the overall progress relating to the SIFC’s initiatives and appreciated Pakistan’s enhanced level of engagement with “friendly countries” and public and private entities, the PMO added.
“Chief of Army Staff reassured undaunted resolve of Pakistan Army to backstop government initiatives in various domains for sustainable recovery of the economy,” the statement said.
Pakistan set up the SIFC in June to attract foreign investment, particularly from Gulf countries. The council aims to attract investments in energy, IT, minerals, defense and agriculture from primarily GCC countries.
The body, which has the army chief and other military leaders in key roles, has said it aims to take a “unified approach” to steer the country out of its economic crisis.