Pakistan

Finance Minister says no such thing as strategic state-owned enterprises

  • Muhammad Aurangzeb says there will be a public-private partnership and we will accelerate the privatisation agenda
Published May 12, 2024

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said Sunday that there are no “strategic state-owned enterprises” (SOEs) as he stressed the need for privatisation.

Aurangzeb made the remarks in Lahore during a panel discussion at the Pre-Budget Conference held in collaboration with Business Recorder and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Lahore.

Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar earlier announced that the government will only deal with strategic and essential SOEs.

Dar declared that the privatization of loss-making SOEs would be a top priority when presiding over the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) meeting, which the finance minister attended.

PM forms body to address issues hindering implementation of ‘Tajir Dost Scheme’

In his speech on Sunday, Aurangzeb declared “the concept of a strategic SOE does not exist.”

Regarding the meeting chaired by Dar on Friday, he said: “We are absolutely on the same page - there is no such thing as a strategic SOE.”

The finance minister said we will meet with various ministries tomorrow to recommend that all of this be taken over by the private sector.

“There will be a public-private partnership and we will accelerate the privatization agenda,” he said.

The Finance Minister promised to broaden the tax base by digitising the tax collection authority.

He stressed that Pakistan cannot take back the steps taken to increase the taxpayers in the country.

Tajir Dost Scheme: First phase limited to only registration: FBR

He stated that while the tax budget was Rs9.4 trillion, only between Rs8 to Rs10 trillion of the undocumented economy was in use.

“There needs to be a war on cash,” he said, adding that the unofficial sector of the economy needed to be integrated into the legitimate sector.

The minister of finance restated that digitization was the only viable option.

He stated, “We are going for an end-to-end digitisation to work on the design and the implementation,” and went on to say that when there was less human interaction, there would be greater transparency and client participation.

During his speech, Aurangzeb announced that the formal discussions between the country and the IMF will begin in Islamabad tomorrow.

The three sectors the government was focusing on were energy, the tax-to-GDP ratio, and the privatization agenda and state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms.

“Enforcement of laws, rules, and regulations is necessary,” he stated, adding that the government was advancing the Track and Trace system. “We must put an end to these leaks.”

The finance minister’s remarks come after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted a committee comprising the chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the secretary of finance, and the secretary Ministry of Commerce to address issues, raised by the business community, hindering the implementation of the Tajir Dost Scheme.

It is learnt that the bottlenecks in the implementation of the scheme were discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Naeem Mir as the Chief Coordinator of Tajir Dost Scheme-2024 on Saturday.

Mir is the chairman of the Supreme Council of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran and will oversee the facilitation of retailers and wholesalers for the successful implementation of the scheme.

The representatives of the business and trade community conveyed to the Prime Minister that traders and shopkeepers are ready for registration, but the real issue is the payment of taxes. The technical and legal issues need to be resolved.

Reportedly, the Prime Minister expressed his commitment to tax the rich and potential taxpayers, but was ready to hear the concerns of the businessmen and traders.

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Maqbool May 12, 2024 06:41pm
Well said there are no "strategic state-owned enterprises" but jobs for the boys make them never to be privatized , same old story .
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Aamir May 13, 2024 01:06pm
Correct. Just privatize all SOEs and reduce burden from the tax payer. Next cut all unnecessary govt and defense expenditure. Minimize govt interference and footprint in the economy.
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