FPCCI to support transparent, responsible privatization process

ISLAM ABAD: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Saturday lauded the decision of the government to initiate offloading the bleeding state-owned entities (SOEs) so that deficit can be reduced by Rs 500 billion per annum.

However, it stressed on the transparent and responsible privatization and giving preference to the corporations that tops the list of loss-making entities.

The government should not sell anything to those who have already bought national assets but defaulted to avoid charges of nepotism, said Zubair Ahmed Malik, President FPCCI while speaking to the business community.

He said that white elephants shouldn’t be sold to the parties interested in selling machinery, land and other assets rather than running it successfully as observed in some earlier cases.

Moreover, he said, sale to the business groups with vested interests and the mistakes committed by the Musharraf regime in selling Pakistan Steel Mills shouldn’t be repeated to keep controversies away during the biggest sale process of the country’s history.

The human and strategic costs should also be considered as some enterprises are vital for national security while others are providing employment to millions, he stressed.

He said that the current situation should also be considered as it is far from ideal for selling assets as local investors are weary of law and order situation, uncertainty and fall of the rupee while foreign investors are hit by the global recession.

It is a common notion that lenders lure developing countries into unrepayable debt traps to ensure the sale of national assets at throw away prices which only benefit selected western tycoons. No step should be taken to strengthen the impression, he stressed.

Zubair Ahmed Malik said that privatization will not help Pakistan in any way if a policy of supporting tax evaders, assisting looters of public wealth and wastage of precious resources continued unabated which has brought the country to the brink.

The country will soon have to carry the begging bowl again if funds raised from asset sale are wasted to unleash another era of socioeconomic and political instability, he warned.

The government has started extracting money from the masses in a way which is beyond their capacity while it continues to support landlords who have the capacity to retire all the debts if they pay taxes, he noted.

He observed that FBR can easily collect around Rs 8 trillion in taxes to eliminate all deficits and change the entire economic scene as well as the fate of the nation, but it prefers to collect only a fraction of that amount.

Zubair Ahmed Malik said that Pakistan doesn’t need any internal or external borrowing; all the country needs is proper management which must begin from shunning politics of plots, permits, SROs, exemptions, princely living and promoting incompetent playing havoc with the economy.

The country is going nowhere, foreign lenders don’t have a key to turnaround; we need is a sincere leadership with proper focus on economy and a will to change the destiny of Pakistan, said Malik.