PIA privatization process to be completed by June: Aurangzeb

Wajid Ali Syed
Monday, Apr 22, 2024

WASHINGTON: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) privatization process should be completed by the end of June, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb announced here on Saturday.

“We are expecting the bids to come through in the next two to three weeks with a view that by the end of June we get closure on this transaction,” he said, adding that foreign investors were showing interest in the Islamabad airport and hoped that it would be finalised by June or July as well.

He stressed that the prime minister was “clear about taking the Karachi and Lahore airports in that direction afterwards.”

Briefing journalists at the Pakistan Embassy at the end of his week-long trip, the finance minister maintained that all ministries had been asked to share the list of their State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) with the Privatization Commission.

The Ministry of Finance has sent out a list of SOEs that they think need to be privatized, he confirmed. The minister said he had to operationalize what the prime minister had committed after taking office which was “the government has no business in being in business”.

Talking about his economic reforms agenda in key areas, especially broadening the tax base, energy sector and privatization of SOEs, the minister underscored that there had been “policy enforcement gaps.”

In the short term, he stressed, the tax tribunals must decide the pending cases in three to four months that have been holding 1.7 trillion rupees in litigation. “That is a very important component of how we are going to move forward,” he said.

Aurangzeb also insisted on implementing ‘track-and-trace functionality’ and ‘end-to-end digitization’ of the tax authority. He repeated the need to bring undertaxed and untaxed sectors into the fold.

The country would not be able to break the cycle of repeatedly seeking loan programs if “we don’t deal with the structural solution,” he said.