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ISLAMABAD: The United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will conduct exams of Pakistani pilots and provide them training under the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) restructuring plan, said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Husain on Thursday.

Dr Husain, while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which met with MNA Riaz Fatyana in the chair, regarding institutional reforms, said that a comprehensive restructuring plan to make the airline a financially viable organisation and reduce its dependence on government loans and guarantees has been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).

An international firm, IATA consultancy has endorsed the recommendations of the restructuring plan, he said, adding that financial liabilities of the PIA to be transferred to special vehicle company after the IATA report.

He said that total number of PIA employees will be reduced from 14,000 to 7,000.

Under the plan many things in the PIA like catering, engineering etc has been outsourced.

Dr Husain said that under institutions reforms programme, federal government entities have been reduced from 441 to 307.

Government entities have been categorised to three main classification including executive departments, autonomous bodies, and constitutional bodies to streamline functions. 206 autonomous bodies, 91 executive departments, and 10 constitutional bodies have been notified, he said.

Dr Husain said that a cabinet committee headed by Shafqat Mahmood, for education and professional training has been formed for implementation of the reforms.

The advisor said that the reforms include comprehensive reforms agenda to restore the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) with main focus on three areas, a) end to end automation (b) functional and organisation restructuring and (c) improved human resources management.

He said that the main objective of the FBR reforms is to reduce the burden of the withholding tax regime, harmonise tax collection across the federal government and the provinces, and to introduce automation to minimize contact between the taxpayer and the tax collector.

Tariff administration has been taken away from the FBR and entrusted to the National Tariff Commission, he said, adding that the policy board of the FBR has been established at the Ministry of Finance.

He said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is being divided into two distinct organisations-one that would be responsible for the regulatory oversight and enforcement of the aviation industry standards, safety and licensing.

The other would manage, develop and operate the commercial operation of the airports, he said.

Dr Husain said that under the reforms, selection procedure for the appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) has been changed.

Appointments of the CEOs of public sector organisations have been conducted through open merit-based competitive process, he said, adding that 62 CEOs have been appointed through the current process, which also included some overseas Pakistanis.

The advisor said we have made system of e-governance and implement it in 40 departments. Now files will not move on paper and communication will be conducted electronically, he said, adding, hardware has been installed and trainings have been completed regarding e-governance.

He said that a new management pay scale was notified to attract new talent from the private sector.

Recruitment process has been broadened and in addition to advertisements, head hunting firms can identify suitable candidates for short listing and interviews.

22 posts have been converted into special pay scale, he said.

Dr Husain said that delegation of financial powers given to line ministries and divisions.

Now single-line budget will be given to the ministries, he said, adding that subordinate offices of the AGPR have been established in the ministries.

The advisor about the Pakistan Railways (PR) reforms said that the PR reforms agenda consist of five components including governance, operations, finance, human resources management, capacity building, and automation and digitation.

Restructuring plan to make PR efficient, involves its division into four companies including infrastructure company, wholly-owned by the government, freight company to be operated by the private sector, passenger company to be operated by the private sector, and ML-I authority for implementation of the $6 billion CPEC projects.

A Railways regulatory agency independent of the Railways board would be formed, he said

He said that four freight and six passenger trains have been outsourced.

Karachi Circular railway was restarted after 20 years.

The advisor said that the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) is being strengthened by transforming it into a modern and professional organisation from the present transaction-based audit to thematic and sectoral audit to maximize the value of public money.

New law and reform plan has been approved by the cabinet, he said.

He said that the main hurdle in the effectiveness of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) was a long standing litigation challenging the validity of the organisation.

This case has now been disposed of and the CCP has been reconstituted with eminent experts as members and has taken up activities against cartels and collusive business practices, he said, adding that financial autonomy of the CCP has been restored and it is now active.

Dr Husain said that a computerised database with geo-tagging has been developed to maintain an updated inventory of all the plots, buildings and properties belonging to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

The ETPB properties would be utilised for constructing hospitals, schools, colleges, and welfare projects, he said.

Under the reforms, he said that the huge powers with the chairman of the ETPB had been diluted by separating the position of the chairman and the CEOs would be responsible for managing the organisation.

MNA Naveed Qamar, Lal Chand, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Malik Muhammad Ehsan UllahTiwana, Junaid Akbar, Mehmood Bashir Virk, Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, Nafisa Shah, and senior officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice attended the briefing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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