Govt Wants to Speed Up Privatization Process of SME Bank and PIA Investment Ltd.

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP), in its meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, has asked for increasing the pace of work on privatization of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank Limited as well as PIA Investment Limited.

Earlier, CCoP was told that the transaction structure has been reviewed and recommended by a transaction committee constituted by the Privatisation Commission. It includes PC Board Members, Finance Division and State Bank of Pakistan.

The meeting was informed that the committee held four meetings before presenting the transaction structure to the CCoP for consideration and approval. The meeting was also informed about the pre-qualification criteria reviewed and approved by the PC Board for prospective bidders.

CCoP also discussed privatization of PIA-Investment Limited and approved a proposal for the constitution of a task force to examine and process all necessary formalities for early disposal of PIA’s properties, including the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and Hotel Scribe in Paris.

Based on CCoP’s decision, the task force will be headed by Privatisation Commission Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro and includes Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis & HRD Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Secretary Privatisation Commission and Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance as well as legal and financial consultants on the Roosevelt Hotel Corp and other officials deemed necessary to be co-opted by the Task Force.

The committee also directed PIA’s management to present the findings of a feasibility study conducted in pursuance of a CCoP decision and to update the committee on a monthly basis regarding the progress of the work and also advised the airline management to carry out its plan in coordination with the Aviation Division.

The CCoP rejected the request of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) for delisting 17 properties from 32 assets being processed for sale by Privatization Commission. However, it considered delisting of ERRA properties till June 2020 when it would be included in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

EERA was of the view that deferring the privatization of its assets till June 2020 will provide it adequate time for possible legislation for incorporating these properties into the National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF).

The Privatization Commission (PC) told CCoP that 17 properties of EERA have been shortlisted for privatization in pursuance of the federal cabinet’s decision in March 2019. An inter-ministerial committee was constituted by the Prime Minister for 32 properties belonging to nine ministries, divisions and organizations, which had proposed these properties for sale to the Privatization Commission.

The PC has already hired a financial adviser for the sale of these properties. withdrawal of properties as being proposed by the EERA will adversely affect the whole privatization process, besides sending negative signals to potential buyers and investors.

The Commerce Division proposed delisting a 15-acre plot situated in an industrial area in Multan on grounds that it can be utilized more efficiently for some other purpose. The CCoP decided that the privatization of the asset in question will go ahead as already decided by the government.

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