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Denationalisation policy needs reconsideration.

Denationalisation Policy Needs Reconsideration

Government and workers stand on cross roads over denationalisation. Both argue in their own way. A confrontation appears inevitable. Habibuddin Junaidi, a veteran trade unionist and the Secretary General, Pakistan Bank Employees Federation speaks about the denationalisation process, its likely impact and the labour-management relation expected to take shape in 1991.

There was an optimism about Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister because of his Industrial origin. But unfortunately the process of industrialisation started with denationalisation. But sick units have not yet been touched. Denationalisation is neither in the interest of the nation nor the economy. Past experience reveals the mismanagement of private sector. Prior to nationalisation there were sixteen banks out of which 10 were at the threshold of bankruptcy and State Bank had to appoint administrators to manage affairs. There was a mushroom growth of co-operative banks. None of them exists except one in government sector. There were private investment companies in Punjab and Karachi who ran away with the booty. We oppose privatisation on rational grounds and facts. Two industries were denationalised during Zia's era, Ittefaq Foundry and the Nowshera Engineering. Ittefaq group flourished because for obvious reasons. But Nowshera Engineering flapped, workers sacked and the factory was locked up.

Let private banks and industries be established. There should be open competition between nationalised and private enterprise. Whosoever adopts progressive policies would survive. Nationalised industries failing to compete would resultantly eliminate. But let the management of taken-over industries work independently. There should be no outside control. Pakistan Banking Council should be abolished. In its place a Council, headed by the chiefs of nationalised banks, with State Bank Governor as its Chairman, be constituted with a member of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and CBA representative. Nationalised banks would definitely give more profit. Government is believed to have created a private investment fund of about Rs. 500 million to rehabilitate about 1 lakh workers expected to be unemployed after denationalisation process in one year. These are the government estimates. The actual unemployment would be more severe. About 70 thousand expatriates from Kuwait have already arrived Pakistan. According to our estimates more than two lakh would be affected from Gulf War. The figure could swell if war continues.

Our economy, family system, law and order situation and the country as a whole cannot withstand such massive pressure of unemployment. The policy of denationalisation was chalked out prior to Gulf War. Now the changed situation demands reconsideration. Secondly there should be consensus within the National Assembly regarding denationalisation. If it is legislated through consensus we are ready to accept verdict. We know that even the ruling party lacks consensus on the issue. Surprisingly neither the parliament has been taken into confidence nor the trade unions. These are the unilateral measures.

1991, appears to be a year of confrontation. The stiff attitude of govt. would be the root cause. The Gulf War would add a new agony. It would adversely affect economy. We want meaningful dialogue to avoid confrontation. "Bulldoz workers policy" should immediately be stopped. In case the workers are brought against the wall they are determined to give tough resistance irrespective of consequences. I would appeal and request all the peace loving citizens and parliamentarians to pressurise the government to stop denationalisation policy to avoid conflict.
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Author:Raza, Moosi
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:Economic forecast 1991-93.
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