Islamabad: Pakistan’s ailing flag carrier PIA would be converted into a public limited company after parliament today unanimously passed a bill, weeks after the government wrangled with the opposition and employees over privatisation of the airline.
The House passed the bill smoothly as the government and opposition lawmakers reached a consensus on April 6 at a meeting of 10-member special committee constituted by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to settle the issue amicably.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the main concern about future of PIA employees had been addressed and none of them will be laid off.
Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid stated that all demands of opposition had been accepted. The joint sitting of the parliament was convened last month to decide the fate of Pakistan International Airline but government had to adjourn it after serious differences with the opposition propped up over the bill.
PIA has been running into losses for years and the government says it is not possible to turn it around with the current system of management.
Privatisation of loss-making enterprises like the PIA was part of the 2013 IMF bailout package that was aimed at stabilising Pakistan’s economy. After conversion of PIA into public limited company, the government plan to bring in new investment and transform its administration to private investors.
The bill was earlier passed by the National Assembly in January but the opposition-controlled Senate rejected it. There was major opposition to privatise PIA and bloody clashes occurred between police and PIA employees’ trade unions when the government announced the privatisation plan.
The protest turned violent when two PIA workers were shot dead in clashes with security forces outside the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi in January The government plans to split PIA into two companies and sell the control of its core business to a global airline.
Other two bills adopted today included those about emigration and civil servants.