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Ishaq Dar caused billions of rupees loss by halting SOEs privatisation, alleges PML-N leader

Ex-privatisation minister Muhammad Zubair held former finance minister Ishaq Dar responsible for causing a loss of billions of rupees by halting the privatisation of loss-making public sector enterprises (SOEs) during the PML-N’s 2013-2018 tenure.

In an interview with a local TV channel, Zubair alleged that the privatisation of the PIA, Steel Mills and Fesco was in the final stages when Dar stopped it and this caused a loss of billions of rupees.

He said he disagreed with several decisions of Dar regarding privatisation.

Regarding the Steel Mills privatisation, the PML-N leader said the final session of the cabinet committee on privatisation was being held when Dar proposed that the Steel Mills be not privatised but handed over to the Sindh government because then leader of the opposition Khurshid Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party wanted that.

Zubair said he did not agree with Dar on that because he believed that such commercial entities should be run by those who were capable of running them and it was not the government’s job to run them.

He said the government had already caused massive losses by trying to run them.

The former privatisation minister said that as the cabinet committee decided to hand the Steel Mills over to the Sindh government, the federal government wrote to then Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah in this regard and spent around eight to 10 months in correspondence with the Sindh government, but those efforts turned out to be useless.

Zubair said the Sindh government agreed to take control of the Steel Mills on the condition that its liabilities would be retained by the federal government. Later, he added, the decision to give the Steel Mills to the Sindh government was cancelled.

Regarding the PIA, Zubair said its privatisation was discussed in multiple sessions of a parliamentary body that had representation of all parties.

He added that when it appeared that the government would go ahead with the privatisation of the PIA, Dar decided to put it off saying that the opposition parties did not believe it was the right time to privatise the PIA.

When Zubair was asked if he was stating that Dar was responsible for not privatising the Steel Mills, PIA and Fesco, he said, “It is a matter of record.”

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