The party has written letters to all provincial chief ministers urging them to take the issue to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to prevent the privatisation of organisations such as Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) which falls under the provincial list. The letter has been written by Senator Raza Rabbani, the PPP’s additional secretary general. It highlights the key elements of the privatisation policy that has been adopted by the government on its own terms or in compliance with IMF conditions. “Most of the units being processed for privatisation are trans-provincial and fall within the purview of the Federal Legislative List-II, in the Fourth Schedule of the constitution,” Senator Rabbani said. A large number of these units pertain to oil and gas and automatically fall within the purview of Article 172(3). As such, he said, the proposed units fall under the supervision of the CCI and consequently requires its approval. The Supreme Court has argued that the policy of privatisation needs to be discussed and reconsidered by the CCI, he said. Senator Rabbani said that the 18th Amendment allows any province to ask the prime minister to summon an urgent CCI meeting to discuss these issues of national interest. Citing Article 154(7) of the constitution, the PPP senator added that if the government is dissatisfied with the CCI’s decision, it can refer the matter to parliament during a joint session. Parliament’s decision would be final, he said. Senator Rabbani pledged in the letter that if the PML-N government considers the matter important enough it can also initiate a critical debate in the provincial assembly and subsequently express the will of the majority through a resolution. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad later on Tuesday, Senator Rabbani warned against the government’s intention to give state institutions to its own people by rendering thousands of workers jobless. “The government’s privatisation policy is, in fact, the agenda of international imperialistic lobbies – particularly the IMF,” he noted. The PPP senator assured the workers that his party will try to address their grievance within and outside Parliament. He said the chairman of the Privatisation Commission had already guaranteed that 8,000 workers from PIA will be retrenched before it is privatised. Senator Rabbani added that the government has yet to whether it will privatise 26 or 51 per cent of PIA. After Eid, the PPP will constitute a worker’s forum to protect their rights, he said. Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.
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