Privatization :PIA, Pakistan Post, Pakistan Railways all in deficit  

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M Azam Tariq

Privatization is currently a highly debated topic in the media, including social media. Opinions are divided: some view it positively, while others criticize the current regime, seeing it as a conspiracy against Pakistan’s institutions. Ultimately, it is up to the people to form their opinions. Many benefits of privatization exist, but the debate continues.

Many of Pakistan’s institutions have become financially corrupt. To meet their requirements, it is necessary to outsource these institutions. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif proclaimed that all institutions, except strategic ones, would be privatized. This announcement ignited a social media campaign against the policy.

I will provide examples of several institutions running deficits due to low revenue and high expenses. According to a recent report, Pakistan Railways earned 68.750 billion rupees, the highest ever, but still could not cover its expenses of 87.3 billion rupees. Another institution, Pakistan Post, earned 14,433 million rupees, but its expenses were 17,098.171 million rupees, resulting in a deficit of 2,655 million rupees. This is not a new issue; every financial year ends with similar deficits. Last year, PIA earned 183 billion rupees but suffered a loss of 11 billion rupees. This pattern extends over the entire history of these institutions, leading to enormous debts that affect their efficiency. As a result, institutions have to minimize manpower and compromise on many priorities due to a lack of resources. For example, Pakistan Steel Mills earns 7 billion rupees annually but cannot meet its investment and expense requirements.

When the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) came to power, privatization became a key focus of the government. I watched an interview with Khawaja Saad Rafique discussing the privatization policy. He mentioned both short-term and long-term strategies. One approach involves outsourcing institutions for a specific period in exchange for a lump sum or monthly payments. Another option is the complete sale of institutions. While some people started criticizing the policy, my personal opinion is in favor of privatization if we want to see our institutions flourish.

Privatization is a widely accepted concept used worldwide. However, it is crucial to ensure that privatized institutions are handed over to deserving entities rather than individuals with political connections. If not managed properly, this can create monopolies and lead to resource scarcity in society.

In conclusion, privatization is a contentious issue in Pakistan, with significant debate in the media. While many see the potential benefits, others are skeptical, viewing it as a threat to national institutions. The examples of Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Post, PIA, and Pakistan Steel Mills illustrate the financial struggles and inefficiencies within these organizations. Privatization offers a potential solution, but it must be implemented carefully to avoid creating monopolies and ensuring that deserving entities manage these institutions. The government’s focus on privatization under the PDM, as discussed by Khawaja Saad Rafique, highlights both short-term and long-term strategies. Ultimately, successful privatization could lead to improved efficiency and sustainability of Pakistan’s institutions, but it requires careful management and oversight to achieve these goals.

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