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KARACHI: Senator Raza Rabbani, former Chairman of the Senate has said that privatization of the WAPDA’s distribution and power generation companies would be a security risk for the country and demanded the government to cancel its entire privatization programme.

Addressing a press conference along with trade unions and labour leaders at Karachi Press Club on Saturday, Senator Rabbani condemned the recent increase in power rates and demanded to take “back this decision”.

“Earlier, the government had increased prices of petroleum products unilaterally, which would affect the poor population and further increase in prices of essential commodities, Senator Raza Rabbani said.

“Privatization is being done under the agreement with IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, but those agreements are kept secret. Basic infrastructure industries like power generation units are being privatized, which may become a threat to national security,” he remarked.

Privatization programme of this government is unconstitutional because all the public sector companies under federation come under the purview of Council of Common Interests (CCI), Raza Rabbani said.

Unfortunately, the government is supporting its crony capitalists and big private investors and plans to hand over the national assets to their friends. The government gave an NRO to the construction industry by providing attractive incentives to big investors and making their black assets to whiten. Only three days ago another NRO Ordinance was issued, which extended the incentives package to the construction industry for the next six months.

On the other hand, Rabbani said the workers who play an important role in development of the country are not provided any facilities, instead they are being crushed through price hike and other anti-people measures. Committee on privatization or Cabinet are not entitled to take any such incident to privatize.

Earlier a CBA in all companies of WAPDA was there, but this government has now decided to set up separate trade unions in each company. This is the anti-workers and trade unionism step of the government, he added. The government has decided to hold a separate referendum in each distribution company, he added.

Rabbani said earlier the government had privatized K-Electric, which was sold to the private management on the condition that the new private management would invest in infrastructure. However, he pointed out that the KE’s services were not improved and citizens were suffering. He feared that privatization of the WAPDA distribution companies’ would not improve any efficiency, but further aggravate the situation.

Abdul Latif Nizamani, President and Khurshid Ahmed General Secretary of All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Workers Union (CBA), said the Cabinet Committee on privatization has decided to privatize 10 distribution companies and four power distribution companies. Besides this they have decided to remove 1806 workers of the power house. Over three crore customers which are receiving power through the WAPDA system in Pakistan would suffer and power supply to domestic and industrial workers would be hampered.

WAPDA’s performance is impressive where recovery is 100 percent and privatization would be harmful to the national economy and large numbers of employees would be jobless. IMF delegation is coming to Pakistan in March and it is their pre-requisite to privatize 10 distribution companies, said Nizamani.

Akhlaq Ahmed of KE Workers Union said the KESC was privatized in 26 November 2004 and only yesterday the Sindh High Court (SHC) had decided on the workers petition yesterday.

KE privatization results are very horrible, he said adding that workers had tried to resist and went to court as over 4500 workers were removed from KE after privatization. The government is going to privatize national assets, which should not be privatized and the government should learn a lesson.

Speaking on the occasion, Karamat Ali said privatization of WAPDA is one of the dangerous policies of the present government because power is an important sector and it directly affects common men.

In fact, WAPDA is suffering from incompetence and poor economic policies, corruption, nepotism and inattention of the federal government, but it is also a fact that it is a national body which is providing electricity to commercial and domestic consumers.

He recalled that in the past private companies in Multan and Rawalpindi were handed over to WAPDA due to faulty power supply systems of those companies and that resulted in improvement of services and hundreds in rural and hilly areas and millions of consumers have access to electricity.

The speakers demanded that mutual talks should be held with the representatives of more than 130,000 WAPDA workers and the proposed privatization process of all national institutions should be abolished.

All the workers across the country are suffering due to spiraling inflation and Corona. The government should increase the salaries and pensions of the employees of all government agencies, including WAPDA, in proportion to the inflation, which has not been done for a year and a half. Encourage hard working workers by deploying competent and honest staff to improve the performance of WAPDA.

Those who were also present on the occasion included Habibuddin Junaidi, People’s Labor Bureau; Nasir Mansoor, National Trade Union Federation Pakistan; Liaquat Sahi, Democratic Workers Federation, State Bank of Pakistan; Farhat Parveen, NOW Communities; Saeed Baloch, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum; Mirza Maqsood Ahmed, All Employees Action Committee of Pakistan Steel Mills; Hussain Badshah, Port Qasim Authority People’s Workers Union.