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PM seeks provinces' support for privatisation

11 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The government received on Monday approval from the four chief ministers to go ahead with privatisation of the power sector.

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ISLAMABAD: The government received on Monday approval from the four chief ministers to go ahead with privatisation of the power sector.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the 25th meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) which was attended by the chief ministers of all the provinces.

The meeting commenced with Inter-Provincial Coordination Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry presenting its agenda.

The highlight of the CCI huddle was to continue with the policy of privatisation in the power sector initiated in 2011.

Addressing the participants, the prime minister said governance was a collective responsibility and all the provinces had to work in tandem.

Under the decision, all power sector entities, such as distribution and generation companies, will be privatised.

The National Energy Policy 2013-18 was also approved.

The prime minister sought support from the provincial governments for his privatisation policy which, according to his detractors, was too ambitious. "Presently, the government has very limited resources to bear losses of state enterprises. In the past, unnecessary recruitments and corruption resulted in mismanagement of these organisations and, therefore, in the national interest, privatisation is the only solution," he was quoted as saying.

Since its announcement to privatise more than 30 national entities, the government has been facing criticism for going too fast on its privatisation policy.

According to sources, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah registered his concern against privatising entities like the PIA.

He said the federal government should be careful because eventually employees were targeted. Therefore, security of their jobs shouldn't be compromised. The PPP has already been opposing the privatisation policy.

The council also discussed the long-pending issue of recovering $800 million from Etisalat which had bought the PTCL. The UAE-based communication company had refused to make the payment until the government transferred all PTCL assets in its name as agreed at the time of privatisation in 2005-6.

The prime minister said the dispute had caused enough embarrassment for the government and it should be resolved at the earliest.

The chief ministers were assured by the finance ministry about payment of liabilities which they would incur in the process of transferring PTCL property falling under their jurisdictions to Etisalat. The Sindh chief minister had raised the issue of payments.

The CCI approved issuance of sovereign guarantee for the Thar coalmining project. The prime minister said it was an important national project which had to be fully supported because it would provide electricity at cheap rates.

It was decided that sovereign guarantees would be provided for all future coal-based projects.

The council expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and decided that a "diagnostic analysis be conducted in order to improve its performance".

The Ministry of Water and Power was asked to hold meetings with all provinces to discuss the possibility of working out a mechanism for deduction 'at source' of their outstanding power sector payables.

The prime minister said consultations with provinces should be mandatory before appointment of board members in public sector companies so that equal representation was ensured.

The Pakistan Engineering Council (Amendment) Bill 2013 was also approved.

On the issue of purchase of 20 per cent shares of the PPL, OGDCL and SSGCL at their face value by the Balochistan government, the prime minister asked the finance division to hold detailed consultations with the provinces.


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