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ISLAMABAD: The draft State-Owned Entities (SOEs) Governance & Operations Bill is awaiting the nod of the Ministry of Law and Justice, official sources told Business Recorder.

On January 24, 2021, the Finance Ministry informed the Cabinet Committee on State Owned Enterprises (CCoSOEs) that one of the benchmarks under the IMF's Extended Fund Facility program was to frame an SOE law for governance reforms of State-Owned Enterprises. In this connection a detailed diagnostic study was undertaken by a technical mission of IMF which identified key governance issues in the management of SOEs in Pakistan.

A legal drafting team was engaged with the technical support of ADB, and a Bill namely State-Owned Enterprises (Governance and Operations) Act, 2020 was drafted. Moreover, due consultations were undertaken with SECP, Privatization Commission, ADB, World Bank and IMF along with independent sectoral experts in the Task Force constituted for this purpose.

The CCoSOEs in its meeting held on August 31, 2020,

while according in principle approval to the draft Bill, directed Finance Division to process the draft SOE Bill for vetting of Law and Justice Division after incorporation of the views of the Ministries/Divisions which was also ratified by the Federal Cabinet.

Finance Division further noted that after due consultation with relevant Ministries/Divisions and in agreement with the IMF on the draft Bill, the same was referred to Law and Justice Division for legal vetting on 3rd November, 2020. Once the draft Bill is vetted by Law and Justice Division, the same shall be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCoLC) for approval.

Finance Division submitted the above updated position before the Cabinet Committee on SOEs for information. During the ensuing discussion, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms & Austerity sought clarification given that different SOEs had different governing laws, which law shall prevail after promulgation of new SOEs law. The representative from the Law & Justice Division clarified that after the promulgation of new law, it will prevail over the old laws. In case of any contradictions observed among old laws and new law, the words "Notwithstanding anything contained" may be inserted to cover such contradictions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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