Former Senate chairperson Raza Rabbani warned on Saturday that the privatisation of the Water and Power Development Authority’s distribution and power generation companies would be a security risk for the country.
Addressing a press conference along with labour leaders and trade unions, Rabbani demanded from the government to cancel its entire privatisation programme.
“The privatisation [of government entities] is being carried out under agreements [signed] with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But these agreements are kept secret,” he said, cautioning that the privatisation of basic infrastructure, such as power generation units, could pose a threat to the national security.
He said the privatisation programme of the incumbent government was “unconstitutional” as all public-sector companies operating under the federation came under the purview of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
“Unfortunately, the government is supporting capitalists and big private investors and plans to hand over national assets to their friends,” he alleged.
On the other hand, Rabbani said, workers, who played an important role in the development of the country, were not provided any facilities.
“Instead they are being crushed by price hikes and other anti-people measures,” he added.
Rabbani said that earlier, the government had privatised K-Electric (KE), which was sold to a private body on the condition that the new management would invest in infrastructure. However, he pointed out, KE’s services had not improved and citizens were suffering.
He expressed feared that the privatisation of the WAPDA’s distribution companies, instead of improving efficiency,would further worsen the situation.
All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Workers Union president Abdul Latif Nizamani and general secretary Khurshid Ahmed said the cabinet committee on privatisation had decided to privatise 10 distribution companies and four power distribution companies of the WAPDA. Besides, they have decided to remove 1,806 workers of the power house, they added.
They said that the complete privatisation of the WAPDA would leave scores jobless and cause damage to the national economy.
Also speaking on the occasion, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research termed the privatisation of WAPDA “dangerous”. He said power was an important sector and it directly affected common men.
The speakers demanded that mutual talks should be held with the representatives of more than 130,000 WAPDA workers and the proposed privatisation process of all national institutions should be abolished.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2021.