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Federal Government’s Decision to Privatize PIA Sparks Controversy

Date: August 07, 2023

In a significant move, the Pakistani government has announced its intention to privatize Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national carrier, leading to a wave of discussions and concerns.

The decision was reached during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization, presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, as reported by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

During the meeting, the committee granted approval for the appointment of a financial advisor to oversee the privatization process of Roosevelt Hotel. Additionally, following the recommendation of the Privatization Commission, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited was added to the list of entities to be privatized.

In parallel, the National Assembly passed the PIA Corporation Amendment Bill 2023, a development that raised questions from both government and opposition members about the bill’s approval process.

Agha Rafi ullah, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, expressed concerns over the privatization, emphasizing that the move would lead to job losses for PIA employees. He asserted that his party should not support such legislation.

Meanwhile, in a press conference held in Lahore, Minister of Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafiq disclosed that PIA is currently burdened with a substantial debt of Rs742 billion. He highlighted the challenge of obtaining aircraft on lease due to the airline’s financial situation. Rafiq also pointed out that airports have transformed into bus terminals, advocating for their outsourcing. However, he assured that no employees would be laid off following the airport outsourcing.

The government’s decision to privatize PIA has ignited a debate over the potential impacts on the national carrier’s workforce and future operations.

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