Asad Umar considers massive privatisation drive via ‘wealth fund’

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ISLAMABAD: Asad Umar, the man most likely to be the next finance minister of Pakistan, in an interview with the Financial Times, revealed that during the first 100 days of the new government, all state-owned companies would be transferred into a special wealth fund.

According to him, the country would have to consider a mass privatisation drive as it seeks to obtain the necessary funds to pull the nation out of the economic crises that the nation seems to be lingering around. The creation of this fund may help persuade the IMF to agree to a favourable deal for the country, he hopes.

The likely new finance minister went on to say that the creation of this special wealth fund would be the first step towards privatization by the new government.

About 200 companies would be effectively removed from government control and placed in this wealth fund, which shall be led by people from the private sector, and managed by the government from an arm’s length. The funds job would be to cut the losses of the companies in that fund, and reduce their debts.

Citing the huge debts of state owned enterprises, he mentioned the staggering debt level of Rs406 billion that PIA has been reporting and stressed on the need to reduce those debts.

In this regard, the new government would have to formulate an effective plan right after taking office, he added.

Meanwhile, the government would also be looking at other options, including raising money from overseas Pakistanis, issuing new Sukuk (Islamic) bonds and requesting Saudi Arabia to defer our oil payments, he said.