Currently, Nadeem Khan Yousufzai, MD PIA, is managing to lose Rs7 crore a day every day of the year. Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Federal Minister of Railways, is managing to lose Rs5 crore a day every day of the year. PIA’s half yearly report titled “Flying towards a prosperous future” reports that liabilities went up from Rs62 billion in 2005 to Rs200 billion in 2009. PIA’s annual report titled “We stand for national values” reports that net losses at the PIA have gone up from Rs4.4 billion in 2005 to Rs35 billion in 2008. At the Pakistan Railways, the overdraft now floats around a hefty Rs48 billion.
In mid-2009, the Pepco’s circular debt had reached a colossal Rs300 billion and that’s when the Government of Pakistan gave birth to another illegitimate dragon – Power Holding Company. The new dragon took over all of the Pepco’s sins by borrowing heavily from the banking sector but within two years of that take-over the Pepco committed 300 billion additional sins. And now the banks have not much left to lend.
The power sector debt – Rs485 billion and rising fast – just by itself has the potential of landing Pakistan’s entire banking sector into the gutter. Loosing Rs100 crore a day every day of the year will land the government into a ditch deeper than the government has ever been in.
We desperately need a Public Sector Turnaround Strategy (PSTS) without which our very survival as an effective nation-state is at stake. Our survival is at stake and yet our decision-makers are all about political rallies. I was once told that politics is the second oldest profession but the way our politicians are practicing politics it bears a close resemblance to the first.
Time is of essence and the decline must be plugged – plugged right away. It is absolutely not about buying new aircraft for the PIA or buying new engines for the Pakistan Railways or inviting rental power projects. It is about reorganisation within each and every public sector enterprise. It is about repositioning the assets we already have. Or, a complete meltdown.
Imagine; Rs100 crore a day can finance either a thousand hospitals or ten thousand schools. If Imran Khan was given Rs100 crore a day for every day of the year no sick Pakistani would be left untreated and every one of the 6.3 million Pakistani children presently without a school would have a classroom.
Who then is going to bell the cat? All that is needed is political will. All that is lacking is political will.
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org