Senate Body on Privatization considers various issues

Staff Reporter

Chaired by Senator Shammim Afridi, the Senate Standing Committee on Privatization in its meeting held at Parliament House on Monday considered various concerned issues.

The Senate Body reconsidered the bill titled” The Privatization Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021” moved by Minister for Privatization in the Senate sitting held on23rd June, 2021.

Committee members received a detailed briefing from Ministry officials on the proposed amendments in the Bill.

Senator Sabir Shah while expressing his reservations on the Bill said that” Bypassing cabinet and empowering an individual the Prime Minister is against the norms.

Amendments will result in withdrawal of collective wisdom. If we go ahead with these amendments it would set a wrong precedent”.

Ministry officials answered that proposed amendments have no effect on process of privatization. We go to the cabinet three to four times during the whole process of privatization. This is by no means limiting the powers of cabinet.

Word Government is mentioned in the Privatization Act 83 times. We have just decided to replace the word in 4 places, which will give power to Prime Minister to make appointments in Privatization Board. As per existing definition of Government and Act We have to go cabinet for even small petty tasks such as account opening.

These amendments are aimed at removing these bottlenecks, informed officials from Ministry of Privatization. Consideration of the Bill was deferred by Committee members after due deliberations.

Committee was briefed in detail regarding privatization of Services International Hotel, Lahore. Secretary privatization commission informed the committee members that Privatization of Services International Hotel is in final stages and matter is to be laid before cabinet for final approval. Bidding has taken place through an open auction.

Two bidders submitted the bids for the reserved base price of 1.94 Billion. Commission received one bid higher than the reserved base price amounting to 1.95 Billion other one was below the reserved price and subsequently did not qualify.

Chairman Committee questioned the officials regarding the process of privatization as to how a bid is considered successful when minimum number of bidders were not there for auction to which Ministry officials answered that there is no legal issue with regards to minimum number of bidders in an open auction.

Ministry officials reiterated their stance that bidding was done as per law with complete transparency.

Senator Sabir Shah said that “It is a commercial property and we believe that reserved base price of 1.94 Billion rupees is very low”.

Committee members were of the view that issue needs to be probed further. Chairman Committee directed to write a letter to Cabinet in order to inform them of the reservations of the committee members on the issue.

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