Cabinet Pak approves order to circumvent procedures for emergency sale of state assets to foreign countries to avoid default: Newsdrum

Islamabad, Jul 23 (PTI) Pakistan’s cash-strapped cabinet has approved an order to circumvent all procedures and abolish regulatory controls for the emergency sale of state assets to foreign countries, according to a news article published on Saturday, as the country tried to avoid an impending default.

According to the Intergovernmental Commercial Transactions Ordinance 2022, which was approved by the Federal Cabinet on Thursday, the government has also barred the country’s courts from hearing any claims against the sale of assets and shares of state-owned companies. to foreign countries. , reported The Express Tribune newspaper.

The move came amid a bid to sell stakes in government-owned oil and gas companies and power plants in the UAE to raise $2-2.5 billion to avoid default. imminent.

Through the order, the Center also empowered itself to issue binding instructions to provincial governments for land acquisition, the report said, citing content from a copy of the order.

But President Arif Alvi has yet to sign the order, he added.

In May, the United Arab Emirates refused to give cash deposits to Pakistan over Islamabad’s inability to repay previous loans and instead asked to open its businesses to investment.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said this week that it usually takes 471 days to complete a privatization transaction.

He added that the government needed to strike deals with foreign countries within days to raise funds urgently.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) set a condition that Pakistan’s case could not be brought before the Executive Board until it secured $4 billion from friendly countries to fill the financing gap , according to the report.

Pakistan recently reached a service-level agreement with the IMF for the disbursement of $1.17 billion as part of the resumption of bailout payments.

The Pakistani rupee lost 8.3% of its value this week, the strongest since November 1998, indicating the severity of the challenges facing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government.

However, the order raised numerous transparency concerns, including the pricing of the shares of Mari Gas Company, Oil Gas Development Company Limited and Pakistan Petroleum Limited amid their low market price relative to their book values. .

The order provides a mechanism to conduct a business transaction under an intergovernmental framework agreement to promote, attract and encourage foreign states to engage in economic and trade relations with Pakistan, according to the documents.

The Cabinet Committee on Intergovernmental Commercial Transactions will be formed and given sweeping powers, including those that overturn six Acts of Parliament.

The order makes the federal Cabinet so powerful that it can even issue binding instructions to the provinces to hand over any land and enter into a transaction with a foreign state, according to the report.

Cabinet committee decisions cannot be challenged in court nor can any investigative agency open such deals, according to the order documents.

The federal government may exempt any intergovernmental business transaction from the regulatory requirement or operation imposed by any law now in effect for the purposes of this order.

This sweeping clause was introduced to shorten the sale of state shares by overriding the Companies Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission Act, the Privatization Ordinance and other relevant laws, according to The Express Tribune. . PTI SH RUP AKJ RUP RUP

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