Better utilisation of assets

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CHAIRING a meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan once again expressed the commitment to fully utilize the dead public assets for the welfare and betterment of the masses. The meeting was also briefed that the unutilized properties of the government will be marketed at Dubai Expo to attract investment including those of Overseas Pakistanis.
Nobody can deny the importance of fully utilizing these dormant properties as doing so will really help boost up the construction and its allied sectors in the country that will result in creating job opportunities for the people. As the government has launched its flagship housing project, it is important that these properties be provided to the investors willing to invest in constructing residential units especially high rise buildings to meet the growing demand of houses in the country. Foreign investment will definitely help the government build state- of-the-art infrastructure and take the economy towards sustainable growth. Having said so, this process should be taken forward in the most efficient and transparent manner whilst keeping in mind the future requirements of these properties for the government itself. It should not be a selling spree of properties just to collect funds to meet the budget and other deficits. These official properties are a national asset and both the federal and provincial governments would need them in future to build schools, hospitals and other facilities for the masses. Hence, these properties should be clearly marked as to which of them will be put on sale and which will be kept by the government. Then the government must also come up with a clear policy of privatisation. The Supreme Court, while hearing a petition concerning a shortage of funds to pay provident funds and gratuities to former Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees, recently barred the government from selling land owned by PSM to generate funds to do so. Land owned by the PSM as well as the foreign properties of PIA including its Roosevelt Hotel are worth billions of dollars. Therefore instead of selling or privatizing these two important entities – once the pride of Pakistan – the focus should be on reviving them with provision of necessary funds to them so that they could sufficiently contribute to the national economy.