Dar slams critics of privatisation policy
Finance minister,Ishaq Dar.
Pakistan - A visibly aggressive Dar accused the political parties of misleading the employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar turned up the heat on government's political foes accusing them of "cheap, petty politics" over privatisation issues.
The minister also justified keeping cut in POL prices to lower level despite steep fall in global price of crude oil, saying the money thus saved will mainly go to provinces for funding mega development projects.
At the same time, the finance minister failed to give an assurance over the government's commitment to privatising power distribution companies.
According to the Express Tribune the biggest opposition to the power sector's privatisation comes from within the government - which probably prevented Dar from giving clear answers to several questions during his news conference here in response to growing criticism over rising public debts and privatisation of state-owned entities.
A visibly aggressive Dar accused the political parties of misleading the employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
"Petty political interests should not hurt the national economic agenda," he said. However, Dar could not give a firm answer when asked to clarify the government's position on the privatisation of the power sector.
While the government has committed to the International Monetary Fund of privatising the sector, it has also set up a cabinet committee for dealing with issues not related to privatisation. "If we want to improve the performance of the entities, power sector reforms can be implemented in different shapes," said Dar. When pressed to give a clear statement if the government really wanted to privatise the power sector, he replied: "The government's policy is to reduce line losses and improve service delivery."
The government has already hired financial advisers for selling off almost all power distribution and generation companies despite opposition from the water and power ministry. Now things are at a standstill. He also justified the suspension of gas supply to the ailing Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
"If we have a reason to believe the mill will not incur more losses after restoration of gas supply, it may be provided. But the petroleum ministry's decision is justified." He said the PSM was required to achieve 74 per cent capacity utilisation by December 2014 but it failed to meet the target.