Profitability of national entities

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that getting important national institutions out of losses and making them functional and stable institutions was an important part of the agenda of the present government. Chairing a high level meeting on reforms in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), he said that the burden of loss of billions of rupees of government institutions was ultimately borne by the people, and therefore, the reform process needed to be further intensified.
There is a strange phenomenon in the country – a number of national institutions are incurring losses despite the fact that some of them enjoy monopoly in the field and have the paraphernalia to become profitable. Pakistan Steel, PIA, Pakistan Railways, WAPDA, Pakistan Post, Utility Stores Corporation are among those institutions that have played/are playing significant role in socio-economic development of the country and have the potential to prosper provided they are run efficiently. On numerous occasions, these organizations turned profitable or were able to reduce their losses significantly when their affairs were run by professional personalities. It is regrettable that instead of reforming these institutions on the pattern of rest of the world, we are treading the easy but unwise option of either privatizing them or leave them to die slowly. This has already happened in the case of Pakistan Steel and other national assets might collapse if remedial measures were not taken to reform their working. Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly pointed out that in order to make a national institution like PIA functional and profitable, it was necessary to expedite administrative reforms as well as ensure efficient utilisation of all available resources in a transparent manner. But the question arises why we are moving too slowly to realize these objectives and have shown lethargy, at times, even to appoint heads of these institutions promptly and purely on merit. There are numerous reports and plans detailing reforms and processes that could make these institutions viable but vested interest are now allowing to implement them. The incumbent PM has a reputation of taking bold steps and we hope he would do so in the case of reforming national institutions.