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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on State Owned Enterprises (CCoSOEs) has delisted Pakistan Television Corporation from privatisation list of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and decided to distribute the job of forensic audit of loss-making entities among the private firms and the Auditor General of Pakistan. The meeting presided over by the Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, on Wednesday, was attended by Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, along with senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Privatization.

The committee, on the request of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, decided to delist the PTVC from the list of the SOEs categorised for privatisation after the meeting was informed by the secretary information that the PTVC is undergoing massive restructuring to make it a financially viable, professionally efficient, and technically sound SOE to strengthen national narrative, and formulate constructive public opinion.

The Committee, after detailed discussion, directed to streamline the existing categories for the privatisation of SOEs, and present a roadmap before the Committee.

The Ministry of Finance presented a report on triage of SOEs before the CCoSOEs.

The committee also directed the concerned ministers to utilise the interim period effectively and workout options for restructuring including possibility of management contracts, where applicable, and update the CCoSOEs periodically.

The committee said it decided the forensic audit of major loss-making SOEs would be conducted in accordance with the directives of the prime minister.

The secretary finance briefed the committee that the Auditor General’s Office is on board, and has started collecting data, whereas several private sector firms have also shown interest in this regard.

The meeting decided that, keeping in view, the large number of entities, the forensic audit task may be distributed among the private firm(s) and the Auditor General of Pakistan as per rules.

On October 1, 2020, the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) had formed a four-member team to conduct forensic audit of major loss-making SOEs following the Finance Ministry’s letter in compliance with the prime minister’s directive and conveyed to the Finance Ministry that it has sufficient expertise to carry out forensic audit of the entities, and a team had also been formed.

The prime minister has asked Dr Shaikh for conducting forensic audit of loss-making PSEs, and subsequently, Shaikh while presiding over the CCoSOEs meeting wanted to know whether sufficient expertise to carry out audit was available with the AGP or the government would be required to hire private auditor, and if so, how much would it cost.

The secretary finance updated the committee on the progress made on Draft SOE Bill 2020.

After following due consultative process on the Draft SOE Bill 2020, the Finance Division has submitted the same to the Law and Justice Division.

Once draft bill is cleared, it would be presented before the Cabinet for approval, before bringing it in the Parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021