PR No. 129Islamabad: December 12, 2015

Representatives of various associations & CBA representing PIA employees called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here late Friday.

The representatives shared with the Finance their concerns regarding the promulgation of PIA coproratization Ordinance which they apprehended was meant for privatisation of the Airline. They stressed that the government should not take any step which is detrimental to the job security of PIA employees.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister assured the employee representatives that their apprehensions were based on misunderstandings and confusion created by certain vested interests. He stated that the government was pursuing the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which was to raise PIA, once again, to the status of a top international airline.

He stated that the Ordinance to transform PIA from a statutory organization into a corporate entity had been issued to grant maximum autonomy to the PIA management and enable it to independently take its decisions rather than look up to the government for all sorts of approvals. He stated that the Ordinance would facilitate the smooth functioning of the airline making it completely independent of the beaurucratic control. The decision making process will be much faster and the benefits will be seen by the employees.

He assured the employees that the Ordinance had not altered their terms of service nor their rights with regard to their employer. He emphasized that those establishing a link between the Ordinance and privatization were wrong, because corporatization is not a must for privatisation and statutory organizations could be privatized as well.

The Finance Minister said that under the directions of the Prime Minister, the present management had brought about a number of improvements in PIA. The Airline has a much bigger fleet compared to early 2013. The services have also been improved a great deal. However, further improvements in fleet, technology and services require injection of capital. For that purpose the government was looking for a strategic partner who would be ready to work with the government to take the Airline to the desired standard.  The strategic partner would be offered a stake in the Airline. However, the government is committed to maintain majority shareholding in the company. The government is also determined to ensure full transparency in the selection of the strategic partner. He also referred to the decision of setting up a parliamentary committee comprising of all parties represented in the Parliament and said that it was another step to ensure openness and transparency in decision making.

The Finance Minister said that PIA needed to significantly improve its employee to aircraft ratio. This objective should be achieved through increase in the number of aircraft rather than decreasing the number of employees. He assured the participants that the Prime Minister had issued clear directions that no  employee should be deprived of his job. The government is therefore committed to protection of rights of the employees. He reiterated that the recent Ordinance had not altered employee rights in any way.

The employees representatives also presented certain other demands which the Finance Minister agreed to consider sympathetically.

Senator Mushahidullah, Chairman Privatisation Commission Mohammad Zubair, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Shujaat Azeem and Chairman PIA were also present on the occasion.