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Govt should privatise power distribution companies

Renowned leading industrialist Mian Mansha said that the government should deregulate the energy sector, cut its size short and privatise the power distribution companies completely for the country’s survival.

The government should also remove the distortions in gas sector where currently 11 tariffs exist and people prefer to start compressed natural gas (CNG) or fertiliser businesses due to these distortions, he said.

Deregulation of petroleum prices is also crucial for the country’s economic survival as this is not the government’s job to make decision on the energy sector’s tariff.

Once the energy sector will be deregulated, the private sector will start its own work, which will cerate employment in Pakistan and law and order issue will automatically be resolved, Masnha believed.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Investment Climate – Way Forward & Role of Media’, on Friday, he said that Bhasha dam could be fatal for the federation of Pakistan, while energy produced from this dam would cost Rs9 to 10 per unit. He said some people are misguiding people that it will generate energy only at 16 paisa per unit.

He admitted some water dams are good for Pakistan. The seminar was sponsored by MCB, Royal Palm, Lahore Stock Exchange and Guard Group.

Clarifying the allegations on its group regarding payments from government through circular debt, he said that the government had paid only four percent to its group from the total payment paid to private power generation sector, while the group contributed 10 percent to the total energy production of the country.

Mansha said a group of journalists on the instructions of one provincial government has started writing articles on Gaddani Coal power project. He feared that such articles and media campaigns would make the project controversial like Kalabagh dam.

He said if the media will not act responsibly then “it will force us to go into media business”.

Another veteran businessman Syed Baber Ali said the government has no right to do any business. He believed private sector should run businesses.

He said government should do transparent privatisation and save resources – which are spent to keep alive these enterprises – and spend it on social sector development. He asked the government to provide a level-playing field while imposing taxes on enterprises.

Baber Ali said agriculture sector is crucial for Pakistan and better growth results could be achieved from it in short time. He stressed the need for improving farm to market infrastructure. On law and order, Ali said that 25 percent of police force in Punjab is deputed only on VIP security, while million of population is catered by the rest of the force.

Secretary Board of Investment Imran Cheema said the government has focused on private sector business development.

He said the World Bank put Pakistan on 107th rank in ‘ease of doing business’, while on the 98th rank in starting a business in the world in its annual ‘doing business’ report ahead of Indian and Bangladesh.

He said the government of Pakistan is working on special economic zones with the provincial governments.

Chairman Nestle Syed Yawar Ali pointed out to remove hurdles for the better investment climate in Pakistan. He said the focus should be given to those sectors where Pakistan has a comparative advantage in the region, such as livestock and agriculture for new investments.

Former economist Pervaiz Thair said the private sector should understand that after 18th amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan the federal government role has been minimised, while provincial government responsibilities increased. He said private sector should approach to the provincial governments for better investment climate rather to keep focusing on Islamabad.

Former Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Ansar Javeed stressed the need of financial consolidation and documenting of undocumented sector of the economy. He believed without bringing them in the legal business growth is impossible in Pakistan.

Former Chairman Wapda Tariq Hameed emphasized on the settlement of the issues of infrastructure development, education and law order for better investment climate. Unfortunately, all these sectors are not in investors’ hand, so the government needs to work on them, he added.

Former LCCI Vice President Mehmood Ahmed said that the government should keep the existing industries interest, while developing special economic zones so that new investment could be flourished along with existing one in Pakistan.

Former Chairman the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority Altaf Saleem believed no foreign investment is possible in Pakistan until the local investors will not pose its trust in the country and for this the government should pamper the local businesses first.

Iftikhar Ali Malik, vice president of Saarc CCI, suggested for regional cooperation in South Asia for economic turnaround of Pakistan.

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