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Govt decides to offer 51% stakes in PIA, Roosevelt to Qatar

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August 16, 2022, (MLN): The government on Monday deferred a plan to sell two LNG-fired power plants to Qatar and instead decided to offer 51% stakes in the Roosevelt Hotel, New York, and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Express Tribune reported today.

The decision was made by Prime Minister during a meeting convened to make preparations for his visit next week to Qatar, which is tentatively planned for August 22 to 23, highly placed sources told the news agency.

The sources said that the meeting discussed the possibility of selling the two LNG power plants to Qatar. But some of the participants were of the view that the country may not fetch the best price net of the Rs104 billion debt that these power plants owe and needed to be retired or converted into long-term financing.

After excluding the liabilities, the government might get $500 million to $600mn at best, which was politically difficult to sell to the people as the best price, they added.

As per the government official, the LNG plants’ price discovery was not immediately possible; therefore, these plants might not be offered to the Qatari government for investment purposes.

To note, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had included proceeds from the sale of LNG power plants in his estimate of $8.5 billion in foreign inflows, which he hoped to raise this fiscal year to meet total external financing needs of $35 billion.

It was also decided that Pakistan should offer 51% stakes in the Roosevelt Hotel, New York, and the PIA along with the management control to Qatar. But the PIA law bars selling more than 49% stakes and giving management control to any other party.

It was decided that the legal process to amend the PIA law should immediately be initiated to do away with the restricting clause.

Further, it was decided that the management of the Islamabad International Airport should also be offered to Qatar along with the handling of the air and cargo business. A meeting participant suggested that Pakistan should also offer more flights to Qatar under open skies policy to make the bid attractive, according to Express Tribune.

The meeting also discussed the proposal to request the Qatari government to set up a $1 billion food and livestock security fund for investment in Pakistan aimed at producing goods here and then exporting them to Qatar. Qatar was keen to buy land in Pakistan for agriculture purposes but the provincial laws are a hurdle in having direct ownership.

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Posted on:2022-08-16T14:08:38+05:00