Global firms vie to invest in airports

In Business
April 23, 2024


Reputable international companies have expressed interest in Pakistan’s desire to outsource airport management and their representatives are expected to arrive this month to review and discuss the proposal.

Sources told The Express Tribune that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently took up the airport outsourcing matter in a meeting of the cabinet so that those could be managed more effectively.

It was disclosed that the government of Pakistan was collaborating with potential investors as reputable international firms had expressed interest and planned to come on a trip to Pakistan within the current month.

The cabinet was told that initial focus would be on Islamabad International Airport for its outsourcing while similar proposals for Lahore and Karachi airports were also under consideration.

The government was planning to outsource the international airports of Lahore and Karachi in the second phase.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction with the progress on privatisation plans for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), affirming that they would be finalised within the designated timelines.

PIA shareholders on Saturday last week gave the go-ahead for the airline’s restructuring by July-August 2024 with anticipation they would encounter no political resistance to the sale of core operations, potentially to foreign investors, to fetch foreign exchange on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recommendation.

Briefing shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting, the national flag carrier’s management announced that the airline had posted an operating profit for the first time in 13 years.

The management also projected the resumption of flights on two major European routes including Paris and a UK city by June, which would push up its earnings from the profitable routes.

A PIA spokesperson told The Express Tribune that the airline held balloting to take consent of its shareholders to transform PIA Corporation into PIA Holding Limited by splitting it into two segments – a corporate concern and a non-core undertaking.

“The shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of (creating) PIA Holding Company,” the spokesperson said.

The cabinet, in its meeting, was briefed that following a meeting of the IMF board, the final tranche of the existing standby arrangement, totalling approximately $1.1 billion, would be disbursed to Pakistan.

In addition, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and his team would negotiate a new and extended IMF assistance programme for Pakistan. This new programme was deemed critical for bolstering the country’s economy.

While recognising that conditions of the IMF programme may pose challenges, the meeting chairman underlined the government’s commitment to safeguarding the less privileged segments of society and accelerating poverty-reduction efforts.

The premier commended the progress made in digitising the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) processes and announced the appointment of consultants by the end of April to expedite the task.

Emphasising the pivotal role of information technology in various economic sectors, particularly the industry, agriculture, minerals, commerce and international trade, he highlighted the need for its broader application.

Addressing a recent meeting held to review the progress on projects under way under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), it was noted that while some progress was evident, significant obstacles hindered their smooth implementation.

The PM pledged to conduct comprehensive sector-specific reviews to eliminate bottlenecks and ensure the implementation of projects without delay.

As SIFC projects were critical for revitalising the economy, he welcomed reports of easing inflationary pressures, anticipating further economic stabilisation.

Turning to the security of Chinese engineers and workers in Pakistan, the prime minister highlighted the urgency of taking action following the tragic incident in Besham, where five Chinese nationals and one Pakistani lost their lives.

In light of the recent tragic incidents, strict measures must be taken, the PM said, adding that ensuring foolproof security of Chinese nationals was imperative, especially for the expeditious completion of ongoing and future projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative.

He informed the cabinet about his visit to Dasu and discussions with the Chinese ambassador, along with meetings with officials of the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, aimed at taking optimal security measures by involving all the relevant federal, provincial and regional agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2024.

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.


Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.