This is apropos a Business Recorder op-ed “SOEs in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh” carried by the newspaper on Wednesday. The writer, Sajid Mehmood Qazi, deserves a lot of commendation for presenting a highly informed perspective on the subject in a highly and effective and meaningful manner.

Needless to say, at least two of our major SOEs, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), have been posing a huge challenge to the national exchequer for quite some time.

In other words, both the public-sector entities are rightly described as white elephants, so to speak. One of the reasons behind their downfall is the fact that these were virtually turned into employment bureaus by our successive governments as every government’s approach to these mega entities had been characterized by only one factor: vote bank politics.

The governments led by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in particular could be blamed for near-demise of PIA and PSM. That the writer is spot on is a fact. According to him, for example, “The path forward involves a delicate balance between public and private sector involvement, with a focus on optimizing efficiency and accountability in the operation of SOEs.

Ultimately, the success of SOEs in these countries will depend on the commitment to reforms and the ability to adapt to evolving economic landscapes.”

In my view, the recently established Special Investment Facilitation (SIFC), which enjoys the oversight of both civilian and military leadership, must give a serious thought to the suggestions that the learned writer has made for dealing with challenge of loss-making public-sector enterprises. I think there is still some chance of success and recovery.

Mahmood Ghaznavi (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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