Government tables PIA sell-off bill in Senate

Published: February 19, 2016
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

The government introduced on Thursday the bill for the proposed privatisation of the national airlines in the upper house of parliament, which referred it to the relevant standing committee.

The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2015 was presented in the Senate by State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab during the session chaired by Raza Rabbani. The National Assembly has already passed the bill.

Govt to split flag carrier into ‘good and bad PIA’

PPP lawmaker Saeed Ghani said the bill should be sent to the Senate’s standing committee on PIA. The treasury benches did not object to the senator’s demand, after which the chairman referred the bill to standing committee.

The Senate panel was directed to present its report in the house within 12 days.

MQM’s Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, meanwhile, called for action against the authorities for sacking daily-wage earners over their protest against the proposed privatisation of PIA. He said until the Senate approves or disapproves the bill, the PIA employees should not be fired.

Taking notice of the sackings, the Senate chairman referred the matter to the relevant standing committee as well.

IMF agrees to delay PIA sell-off for six months

The upper house also passed four bills without any amendments during the proceedings on Thursday.

The bills approved were The Electoral Rolls (Amendment) Bill, 2015; The Delimitation of Constituencies (Amendment) Bill, 2015; The Pakistan Halal Authority Bill, 2015; and The Publication of Laws of Pakistan, 2015.

The entire opposition twice staged token walkouts over the alleged killing of a PPP worker in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the unprecedented increase (60% to 100%) in prices of medicines, including some life-saving drugs, by local and international pharmaceutical companies.

Question hour

Senator Samina Abid asked a question about the extension in the deadline to send back Afghan refugees to their country, seeking reasons behind the extension. SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch replied the government had an international commitment to repatriate the refugees voluntarily and with honour under the tripartite agreement signed between the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN refugee agency.

PML-N government paves way for PIA privatisation

He added the Afghan government had failed to provide conditions conducive to help the refugees return to and reintegrate into Afghanistan as per the agreement. He cited factors such as the security turmoil and the weak economy of Afghanistan for delays in the repatriation of the refugees.

The minister said about 3.9 million registered Afghan refugees had been repatriated since 2002. Currently, 1.55 million registered Afghans holding proof of registration cards are residing in Pakistan.

The prime minister had recently extended the legal stay of registered Afghan refugees until June 2016. However, a summary for extension of these Afghan refugees till December 2017 is also under consideration.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Sodomite
    Feb 19, 2016 - 8:51AM

    GOP is in real hurry to sell PIA as if their life depended on it. Seems that IMF dictates Pakistan more than the electorate of Pakistan, for PMLN do not have the vote of every Pakistani but a minority of Pakistanis and they are taking us all for a ride that we wont ever forget. Shame on us as a nation when we cant stop thieves in their tracks. Recommend

  • Brainy Bhaijan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:02AM

    MQM should not cry over PIA because technically the privatization would only help the urdu-speaking community.
    They unnecessarily created problems during the PTCL privatization but look what happened. All the new hirings were done mainly from karachi because the urdu-speaking people generally have better education levels than the other ethnic communities living in pakistan.
    They are pro-merit and anti-quota. Privatization only helps their cause in the long run. Altaf Bhai needs to revamp his think tank department.Recommend

  • Junaid
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:18AM

    @Sodomite:
    Hurry? I think they are way late on this. This should have happened in the very first few months of their govt. Govt has no business running the airline. Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Feb 19, 2016 - 2:02PM

    @Junaid:
    If I may. You saw how private carriers raised fares 3 times when PIA went on strike. Sign of patriotism I suppose?? That’s what will happen in 5 years when leases on existing planes mature, leaving no planes to fly. New owners will change name and fly only to tertiary airports after losing legacy rights. Then people will fly to London Gatwick or Stanstead not Heathrow, via Istanbul, Dubai or Qatar with higher fares, longer hours and less service. Then people will remember PIA, which I prefer even now given their safety record compared to Air Blue, etc., By that time existing politicians will be living abroad, unconcerned with the rot they left behind. It was the NRO that brought them back dry cleaned. . Recommend

  • Junaid
    Feb 19, 2016 - 4:04PM

    @Sodomite:
    Govt should foster competition to avert all the issues you highlighted rather than entering in business itself. Also it should act as a regulator to avert monopolistic behavior by airlines. Think about who is getting to bag all the money due to losses being made by PIA, surely it is not the passengers as the fare of PIA to most destinations is at par or higher than competition. Recommend

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