THE Federal Cabinet, on Thursday, decided not to privatise Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and instead restructure them. The Cabinet endorsed the decision of the Privatisation Commission in this regard taken a day earlier. Though the Cabinet approved privatisation of a number of other institutions and entities including Islamabad’s famous Jinnah Convention Centre and PIA’s Roosevelt Hotel, which do not augur well.
The decision to abandon privatisation of PIA, PSM and instead reforming these two important national institutions would be welcomed by people of Pakistan. Employees and their families, who have been suffering from mental torture and financial problems, would also heave a sigh of relief and hopefully they would work with renewed zeal to restore glory of their institutions. There is no doubt that the two institutions are suffering huge losses but it was mainly because of past neglect and non-professional running of these organisations. Thousands of people were inducted in PIA and PSM during tenures of successive governments not on merit but on political considerations. Similarly, open-sky policy decision, operating non-viable routes and undue interference by union bearers played havoc with the two entities and governments instead of reforming them opted for easiest course of getting rid of them.
This is despite the fact that PIA was a symbol of national pride and there was no reason why PSM should incur losses when steel has become a basic ingredient of modern-day development. Therefore, the history would remember PTI government if it succeeds in its plans to revive these organisations that have the potential to play an important role in overall progress of the country. We believe that reforms, restructuring and not privatisation or closure of institutions is the answer to phenomenon of institutional collapse.