Privatization difficult amid economic downturn. Failed state-run companies a national security threat.

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(October 23, 2019)

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said a delay in the privatization process will add to the debt and liabilities of the failed companies which will result in a lack of interest by investors.

He said that economic slowdown, reduced social spending, high interest rates will also discourage investors therefore the government should get rid of these white elephants spending trillions of rupees per annum.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the failed institutions have become a national security threat adding to the deficit.

The former minister noted that the government has planned to sell some of the companies but it has also decided to keep all the relevant institutions and regulators on board which will slow down the process while the inclusion of NAB in the process will scare away investors.

He said that sale of steel mill has been delayed and so far a financial adviser could not be appointed which speaks of the interest of the officials concerned.

The stakeholders in the PSM have complained that Ministry of Industries and FBR is not showing any interest in resolving the issue which has pushed up the losses to Rs 510 billion while the average loss during the tenure of the incumbent government is Rs 2.8 billion per month.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the steel sector has been hijacked by a mafia involved in smuggling of scrap from Iran and Afghanistan. This mafia is against documentation of steel sector and it is also importing finished products in the garb of scrap which has created problems for local industry.

He said that additional duty should be slapped on steel scrap coming from Iran and Afghanistan or it should be allowed only through sea route to provide relief to the local industry.

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