Cabinet approves ordinance to remove obstacles for privatization of govt assets including PIA

ISLAMABAD: All obstacles to the privatization of government assets, including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been removed as the Federal Cabinet has approved to issue an ordinance to ensure the privatization, it was learnt on Friday.

According to sources, the Federal Cabinet has approved the issuance of Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 to ensure the privatization of the government assets including PIA. They said that it has been decided to end the jurisdiction of the High Courts and other courts against the privatization. They said it has also been decided to establish the Appellate Tribunal to hear the petitions so far filed or to be filed against the privatization. They said following the issuance of an ordinance, the decision of the Privatization Commission Appellate Tribunal can only be challenged in the Supreme Court, while the cases pending in High Courts and other courts across the country will be transferred to the Appellate Tribunal. The privatization process has so far badly affected by the filing of cases in various courts, said sources.

It has been decided to establish an Appellate Tribunal on the demand of domestic and foreign investors, they added.

Documents available with this scribe disclosed that Privatisation Commission was established as a body corporate under Privatsiation Commission Ordinance, 2000 (Ordinance LII of 2000) with an object to conclude privatisation process in a fair and transparent manner avoiding unnecessary procedural and legal delays while adhering to the principle of due diligence, equity and justice, Section 28 to 33 of the Ordinance confer exclusive jurisdiction upon the High Courts to adjudicate, settle all matters and try offences punishable under the Ordinance. These sections also enumerate the powers and procedure to be followed in High Courts besides providing the appellate fora against orders of the respective High Courts. According to the Ordinance, all High Courts can exercise concurrent jurisdiction in any matter and offences. This concurrent jurisdiction has the potential to lead to multiple petitions on the same matter across different High Courts, resulting in inordinate delays thereby impeding the privatsation process. Therefore, there exists a necessity to constitute a privatization Appellate Tribunal to resolve the issues related to privatsation transactions while adhering to the due process of law and principle of natural justice.

As per the sources, in order to address the issues faced by the Privatisation Commission in smooth execution of the privatization transactions, Privatisation Division has proposed certain amendments in the Ordinance through Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was vetted by Law and Justice Division as Ordinance, since the Senate and National Assembly are not in session. This amended Ordinance was submitted to the Cabinet Committee for the Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC). The Committee deliberated on the proposed Ordinance in its meeting held on 6th December 2023 and approved the Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023.

Recognizing the urgency in this matter, it was earlier proposed that the decision of Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) in its meeting held on 6th December 2023 may kindly be submitted to the federal cabinet for ratification through circulation under Rule 17(1)(b) of the Rule of Business, 1973, said sources.

In light of the above, the Cabinet Division was also requested to seek approval of the Prime Minister for ratification of CCLC decision dated 6th December 2023 by the federal cabinet through circulation in accordance with Rule 17(1)(b) of the Rule of Business, 1973, sources added.

Ahmad Ahmadani
Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected].

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