The government’s agenda is probably focused on the privatization of its organizations, as it is likely going to sell its remaining stake in Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), as reported by Business Recorder on Saturday.
This move comes as the part of government’s decision to privatize Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP) and PTCL. National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Privatization held a meeting with the chair, Syed Mustafa Mahmood and headed by Federal Minister for Finance, Dr. Asad Umar. The committee was informed that the government has decided to privatize 49 organizations within the next five years incorporating two phases.
While giving the briefing to the meeting’s participants, Dr. Asad Umar has directed the Ministry of IT & Telecom to give recommendations on what should be done with the remaining shares of PTCL before April 2019.
Previously in 2016, the only state-owned telecom corporation in the country — PTCL, got owned by Etisalat Telecommunications — a multinational telecom services provider, when its preliminary controls were given to the company along with 26 percent of shares. Meanwhile, another slice of 12 percent shares was sold to the general public, reducing the shares of government to 62 percent. This intensified privatization program occurred during the tenure of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
As several other departments have failed to convince the cabinet’s committee on privatizations of their respective organizations, it’s likely that the government may sell remaining of its stake in PTCL to completely privatize the company. However, the government’s agenda on the privatization of PTCL would be materialized in the next five years.
On the other hand, TIP which is also a state-owned enterprise (SOE) currently running in losses and draining an average Rs. 500 million a year for salary support. It has become non-functional as its annual revenue has gone down drastically to about Rs. 20 million from Rs. 700 million in the past few years.
It must also be noted that as per Sale Purchase Agreement, Pakistan is still awaiting $800 million outstanding dues on account of PTCL privatization, which are still being held by Etisalat. The 26 percent stake of PTCL was sold for a total bid amount of $ 2.598 billion.