International media: WSJ acknowledges Pakistan’s privatisation vision

International Monetary Fund media

ISLAMABAD: Wall Street Journal has acknowledged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision to privatise Pakistan’s state-dominated failing enterprises and hopes that it will help the country overcome its economic crisis.
The paper stated that Sharif has the opportunity to deliver on a long standing promise of privatisation, after the country’s first transition from one elected government to another.
The paper mentioned the 49% rise in Pakistan’s benchmark stock index in 2013, and expressed belief that more economic good news will follow this year, if Sharif delivers on his privatisation promise.
In a write-up on its opinion page, ‘Pakistan Privatises for Growth’, Sharif’s chance to reform a state-dominated economy stated that though Pakistan faced numerous problems — from terrorism and lawless territories to power shortages and polio, privatising ‘state-owned dinosaurs’ was not the sole solution.
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“But the sooner Islamabad can stop hemorrhaging Rs500 billion (nearly $5 billion) annually on budgets, subsidies and bailouts for failing enterprises, the better,” the paper said.
Spurred by a $6.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, Sharif’s government in September 2013 committed to begin the privatisation process of more than 30 public energy, transport and infrastructure corporations over the three years.
These include Pakistan State Oil, Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel Mills. The process was being led by a 15-member privatisation commission headed by Mohammad Zubair, formerly IBM’s chief financial officer for the Middle East and Africa.
The paper hoped that the process will move forward with the expertise and political independence; starting with partial privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines by December.
The paper, however, mentioned that Sharif’s reforms will still face resistance from organised labor and Pakistan’s two major opposition parties.
Published in The Express Tribune,

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