The Mantra of Privatization- Does Pakistan Need Privatization?

Part one of this series can be found here

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The country in way is heading towards deindustrialization. In the last three decades, there has been a mushrooming of big shopping malls. The country seems to be becoming a market for multinational goods.

The ruling elite says the bankruptcy of state concerns is forcing them to pay huge subsidies but have they ever revealed as to how much subsidy they have pumped into textile and other industrial concerns of private sector.

Under what law they doled out billion of rupees to KESC in the form of subsidy. If the profitability is the only criterion then why Pakistan Telecommunication and many other state concerns was were privatized?

These concerns were paying tons of money to the government in the form of taxes. Why does the government intend to privatize OGDC, PSO and other state concerns that are making huge profits?

The officials of PIA made Etihad and other airlines profitable, why cannot their skills be utilized to make PIA profitable. Pakistan Steel Mills, Karachi Electric Supply Corporation and other state concerns had not been going in loss since their inceptions. They played an important role in the development of the country.

There has been a deliberate attempt on the part of various governments to discredit state concerns so that their sale off could be justified. People from private sectors with conflicting interests were appointed in the state concerns who played havoc with these precious national assets.

For instance Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the current minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, was made chairperson of the PIA in 1990s, now he owns his own private carrier company.

Aijaz Haroon, ex MD of PIA, doled out lucrative international routes of the national carrier to Turkish airline, now he is serving the same foreign company.

It is illogical to think that the government and private sectors could work in tandem with harmony and that there could be no clash of interest. This is absolutely wrong.

If the performance of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, where patients are treated for a few rupees, is excellent, who would go to Shifa Hospital that charges tons of money for even a minor surgery?

Similarly if the performance of Civil and Jinnah hospitals of Karachi is impressive, which treat thousands of patients for peanuts, who would go to Agha Khan Hospital where even a dead body could be impounded for non-payment.

If government schools perform well, who would pay millions of rupees to the private schools like Beacon House, Lahore Grammar, and Karachi Grammar who are taking advantage of poor condition of government schools?

If everyone has pure drinking water in the government’s taps, how will Aquafina, Nestle and dozens of other water providing companies make money who have converted water, an essential element for living beings, into a commodity?

Therefore, Shifa and Agha Khan Hospitals may not be the cause of poor performance of the government hospitals but this poor performance goes in their interest.

Similarly big grammar schools may not be a hurdle in improving state educational institutions but decline of education at government educational institutions benefit private schools.

Agha Abdul Sattar

Agha Abdul Sattar is a senior journalist and has worked for several national and international media centers.Agha did his masters in political science and have worked for The News, Daily Dawn, Dawn News English channel, Voice of Germany and National Public Radio of America.

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