Bilawal asks govt to run PIA, PSM in PPP mode

PPP also calls for increase in pay and pension in next budge

Hafeez Tunio May 01, 2024
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaking at an event on the occasion of Labour Day in Karachi. SCREENGRAB


Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari advocated for a pragmatic approach towards managing key state-owned enterprises (SOEs), stressing the need for exploring alternative of the public-private partnership (PPP), instead of an outright privatisation of the loss-making units.

Addressing a function organised by the Peoples Labour Bureau (PLB) at the Karachi Arts Council on the occasion of International Labour Day, Bilawal urged the federal government to increase salaries of the government employees in the next budget in the wake of prevailing high level of inflation.

According to a press release issued by the Media Cell Bilawal House, the PPP chairman, reaffirmed the PPP’s philosophy that the “workers receive” their rightful dues.

“Economies, businesses, and institutions worldwide, including Pakistan, thrive because of the dedication of workers,” he said.

He recalled that the PPP founder Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto granted workers the right to form unions and also established vital institutions like the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) for their welfare. He added that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto also carried forward the noble struggle of the workers.

When Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto assumed office as prime minister, Bilawal said, her inaugural act was to release workers’ who had been unjustly imprisoned during the dictatorship. He added said that during the first tenure of President Asif Zardari, significant strides were made towards labour rights.

Bilawal reiterated the PPP’s longstanding stance on the privatisation of the SOEs like the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). He stressed the need for operating the loss-making units under the PPP mode.

He cited the examples of successful PPP-mode projects in Sindh. He suggested that the government should sell some shares of those projects and engage the private sector in order to foster their development, thereby benefiting Pakistan and its economy.

Bilawal highlighted the success of the Thar Coal Project which was completed by the Sindh government under the PPP mode”. Noting the current finance minister’s favourable view of Sindh’s PPP model, he said he intended to persuade the federal government to adopt the PPP mode instead of privatisation.

About the PSM, Bilawal said that the land of the mega industrial project belonged to the Sindh government, therefore, any decisions regarding its future should involve Sindh’s consent, suggesting collaborative discussions between the federal and provincial governments.

He proposed that if the federal government intended to divest the Steel Mills, Sindh should have the opportunity to acquire and operate it more efficiently under the PPP-mode, ensuring the welfare of its workers.

Bilawal said that the PPP had the best record of protecting the labour’s rights and taking initiatives for their welfare. He noted the removal of anti-labour clauses from the Constitution, originally introduced during the regimes of military dictators, during the previous PPP government.

The PPP chairman said that the last the PPP government from 2008-13, made substantial increases in the pays and pensions of the government employees. “I believe that no government [other than the PPP] in Pakistan’s history has raised salaries and pensions to such an extent,” he said.

On the occasion, Bilawal also highlighted the achievements of the PPP government in Sindh, stating that no other province rivals its commitment to enacting laws for the rights and welfare of workers. He highlighted the Sindh government’s initiative of the Benazir Mazdoor Card.

However, he noted that its full implementation hinged upon the federal government’s transfer of ministries and institutions like EOBI under the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He hoped that PPP-led governments in Sindh and Balochistan would prioritise pay raise in the next budget.

In his speech, the PPP chairman stressed the need for increased mobilisation of the People’s Labour Bureau, a subsidiary organisation of the PPP. He also announced the appointment of former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani to mobilise the bureau nationwide.


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