Parliament adopts PIA conversion bill

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Resolves to protect, implement constitution; Opposition takes opportunity to raise Panama Leaks issue

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad—Joint sitting of the Parliament Monday unanimously passed the The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (conversion) Bill, 2016 to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company with some amendments.
Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid moved the bill in the Parliament on Monday.
The main purpose of converting PIA into a limited company is to attract strategic partners and to provide quality of traveling service to the people.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says, the PIA was established under the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Act. 1956. In the recent years the national flag carrier has not been able to fulfill its statutory mandate. The PIA has been incurring huge financial losses and has become a burden on the national exchequer.
The main objectives of the government with regard to the airline are to ensure its continued operations as the country’s national airlines, to promote rapid development and modernization of the airline to encourage injection of capital, skills and latest technology, to upgrade the airline operational and financial performance and to achieve improvement in performance and operational efficiency in various business segments of the airline. In order to achieve these objectives, it is imperative that the airline be corporatized and converted into a public limited company, incorporated under the Companies Ordinance, 1984.
The conversion will enable the government to revitalize the Airline and develop a healthy, competitive aviation sector in Pakistan.
In clause 4, after sub clause (3), new sub-clauses have been added which say that representation on the Board of Directors and all other rights and privileges of shareholders of the Company, or any of its subsidiary companies carrying on air-transport business, shall be proportionate to their share-holding. The federal government shall carry out or cause to be carried out valuation of the assets of the Company, and its subsidiary companies carrying on air-transport business, by a recognized valuator before transforming any shares of these companies to a third party.
It is worth mentioning here that earlier the bill was rejected by the Senate twice and the National Assembly passed it with majority votes amid the opposition strong protest.
Earlier, in last joint session of the Parliament a 10-member special committee was constituted by the Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on demand of the Opposition to make consensus on the bill.
The Special Committee in its meeting on April 6 reached consensus on the bill and it was decided that the government would sell as much as 49% of the shares of PIA while the remaining 51% shares would remain with the government.
Likewise, the administrational control of the institution will also not be handed over to the shareholders.
The management of PIA will remain with the Board of Governors however representation within the Board of Governors will be given in accordance with the percentage of shares.
It was also decided in the committee that by converting PIA into a limited company, no impact will take place on the salaries and pensions of the PIA employees and that the assets of the institution will not be sold as well.
Other bills passed by the session included the Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Privatization Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Except PIA bill, others were piloted by private members.
Earlier, parliament unanimously passed a resolution reiterating the resolve to protect and implement 1973 Constitution at all costs.
The resolution, moved by Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, felicitated the nation on the Constitution Day and recognized the sacrifices rendered by the people of the country and political parties for upholding the constitution.
The resolution said the history of 1973 Constitution demonstrates the sagacity shown by our political leaders to reach a consensus document.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan did not miss the opportunity to embarrass the treasury benches on the matter arising out of Panama Leaks. Using his typical ironical and satirical remarks, he wondered as to which magic wand the Sharif family has that it has acquired so much wealth. He reiterated the demand that an international forensic audit company should be given the responsibility to hold investigation into the offshore wealth of the family of the prime minister.
Responding to points raised by Aitzaz Ahsan, PML-N’s Mushahidullah said those who indulged in loot and plunder during their tenure are trying to criticize others.
He said Government is following the path of development and prosperity and is determined to implement the mega project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and address the challenge of load-shedding.
He said today the opposition claims the Prime Minister did not disclose his London flat but they forget that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto used to have political meetings with Nawaz Sharif at the same flat.
The session has now been prorogued.

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