Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said failed government institutions should not be considered as assets but liabilities.
The state-run companies are burdens on scarce resources and act as landmines for the economy therefore the government should get rid of them immediately, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that 63% of the population in Pakistan is young and the economy must create at least one million new jobs annually to keep them busy otherwise they can become a problem.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the closure of industries and the loss of jobs should be a major concern as employment can help youth become responsible citizens.
He said that the failed state-owned companies could not become profitable and their management could not be improved despite decades of efforts because the governments lacked the will and skills required to run these companies so it is better to sell them.
Selling these white elephants will provide some capital to the government in these difficult times and save hundreds of billions of rupees annually which are currently being spent as bailouts to keep them alive artificially.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that selling these companies will not endanger the jobs of qualified employees because the new owners will also need qualified employees, but the efficiency of the enterprises will also create more job opportunities and the government will also receive taxes.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the losses of the top ten institutions including PIA, Railways, power companies and National Highway Authority are ninety percent of the total losses.
It is impossible to deny the usefulness of government-owned companies. It is also a fact that nearly half of the world’s GDP is credited to state-run companies and currently there are 600 such companies operating in Europe alone.
However, it is impossible to push state-run companies to profit in Pakistan because here politics is given preference over every other matter including the economy.
How can government operate businesses in an unfavourable environment where private business is difficult to run, he questioned?
The job of politicians is to run the country, not to run businesses. If the government does not want to sell these companies then it must work on a mixed model in which the majority of shares are held by the government but the management is in the hands of the buyer who is responsible for making the company profitable.