ECP pauses flag carrier PIA’s sale

  • Letter from the election panel seeks documents related to PIA deal to review them
Published February 5, 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the caretaker government to “refrain” from finalising a deal to privatise flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pending a review, a letter from the poll panel seen on Monday said.

The February 1 letter from the panel to Pakistan’s cabinet secretary, seen by Reuters, comes days ahead of the February 8 general elections.

The caretaker government is close to putting the loss-making airline up for sale after completing a restructuring plan, Reuters has reported.

In deep economic crisis, Pakistan agreed in June to overhaul loss-making state firms under a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion bailout.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif decided to privatise PIA just weeks after signing the IMF agreement.

The caretaker administration, which took office in August to oversee the Feb. 8 election, was empowered by the outgoing parliament to take any steps needed to meet the budgetary targets agreed with the IMF.

The letter from the election panel sought documents related to the PIA deal to review them.

Legal segregation of PIACL discussed

“The caretaker government should refrain from taking any further steps including signing of an agreement in this regard till a decision is made by this commission,” the letter said.

The caretaker government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PIA had liabilities of Rs785 billion ($2.8 billion) and accumulated losses of Rs713 billion as of June last year. Its CEO has said losses in 2023 were likely to be Rs112 billion.

Progress on privatisation will be a key issue if the new government goes back to the IMF once the current bailout programme expires in March-April, analysts say.


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Ch K A Nye Feb 05, 2024 07:36pm
So the ECP has experts to analyse these documents called for? Seems that it's merely a way to delay the much needed privatisation so that their Masters can benefit.
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Rightly so .
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KU Feb 05, 2024 09:51pm
Most likely due to disagreement on equal share of the crumbs falling off the high-table of the King and horde. Anywhere else in the world people would say, ''you got to be joking, right?''
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