Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique strongly rebuffed rumours about the privatisation of Pakistan Railways, saying that the state-owned corporation is successfully elevating its revenue streams and did not need to be sold off.
“We are not going to kick-in any privatisation process for Railways – neither is there any need nor can it be done,” Rafique said in a contract-awarding ceremony held Saturday.
He, however, said that the entity will want to continue as a regulator and will invite the private sector to operate more passenger as well as freight train operations.
“We will manage to uplift revenues from Rs18 billion to the expected Rs40 billion by the end of this fiscal year,” he said. “We are going to further increase our revenue targets for next year to Rs50 billion and we are hopeful that it can now achieve the target.”
The PML-N government has been actively pursuing the privatisation agenda, selling off key stakes in large commercial banks, while also looking to reform power sector companies. Pakistan Railways has also been considered a top priority by the Privatisation Commission. However, considering the size of the entity coupled with strong resistance from within the organisation, its privatisation has never been publicly announced.
Rafique said that now the corporation is in a position where it can easily make up for its lost momentum. “We are currently in a process to make our business plans for the next year in which handling freight operation via private sector is our top priority.
“The number of locomotives for freight sector has increased to 90 from 8 in 2013, the number will rise to 150 locomotives in the next three months,” said the minister.
“We have already been contacted by the private sector that is ready to work as well as bring in its own infrastructure and machinery,” he added.
Talking about future needs, Rafique said that the entity was working on yet another project that would inject another 300 locomotives to the existing fleet.
“We are working on this project and we are looking at the possibility that these locomotives can be manufactured in Pakistan for transfer of technology in the country,” he said, adding that this will fulfil the needs of the state-owned entity for the next decade.