Chief Executive Secretariat expunges Public Accounts Committee remarks against privatisation policy

ISLAMABAD (November 12 2002) : The Chief Executive Secretariat had expunged the strong remarks of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) against the privatisation policy of present government, sources told Business Recorder.

The PAC had sought review of present government's privatisation policy about the sale of state assets at throw-away prices by following plausible methods.

The PAC had also criticised creation of private monopolies after breaking government entities in the name of privatisation of state assets.

The PAC recommendation against the policies and its mediocre but expensive consultants who played an important role in selling the state assets at throw away prices, was scrapped through a Chief Executive Secretariat letter No 1(242)/SO(C-2)/2000, dated November 2.

The failure of the privatisation policy could be judged from the single fact that so far Rs 80 billion have been generated from the sale proceeds of privatisation of 114 key state assets. But, no one knows where such a big amount has gone though its primary use was for foreign debt retirement.

PC claims that this has already transferred Rs 57billion to Finance Ministry and has given Rs 5billion to its consultants, while Rs10 billion is for PC budget. Besides, Finance Ministry is not ready to disclose the nature of spending of such a big amount if not on debt retirement as the fund was generated after rendering thousands of people jobless, bringing more socio-economic chaos.

Earlier, sources said, the things did not end here as the President has cleared the report for the year 1999-2000 but interestingly scrapped its crucial recommendation about the privatisation policy that has so far miserably failed to bring about any socio-economic change.

The privatisation policy has got boost during the military regime and earned severe criticism.

Earlier, in its recommendations to the President in its annual report, the PAC, while pleading its case against privatisation policy, had pointed out that while dealing with paragraphs relating to the Privatisation Commission, an issue was raised that the decisions were made by the PC on case-to-case basis.

PAC seriously criticised the Privatisation Commission, saying that while appointing consultants, the PC did not take into account their credentials and competence and now the consultants were being properly briefed and provided guidance about their assignments.

It said, the standardisation of the privatisation policy would, in the opinion of PAC, advance the cause of competitive bidding and ensure a fairer price for the assets sold.

PAC pointed out that an economist of national standing who appeared before the PAC expressed the view that the government monopolies should not be privatised to create private monopolies.

“The PAC subscribed to this viewpoint and recommends that the government should seriously review this policy”.

But, sources said, the mighty bosses of the PC have got these important but critical recommendations against their policies scrapped after approaching the President, thus making the PAC toothless and helpless.

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