Islamabad July 23 2023: Pakistan Government is in the final stage of establishing the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund through an act of parliament. The government might table a bill in the National Assembly next week to set up the fund. The draft of the bill has been prepared with the assistance of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).
The sources said that the government may transfer seven companies into the new sovereign wealth fund initially. The net worth of the assets is Rs2.3 trillion.
The government has identified the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), the Pakistan Petroleum Limited, the National Bank of Pakistan, the Pakistan Development Fund, the Government Holdings Private Limited, the Mari Petroleum Company Limited and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Company Limited to be listed in the fund.
The UAE has shown interest in the past to acquire stakes in the oil and gas sector companies of Pakistan. There is now a possibility that the government can divest shares of the assets.
The government is in the process of handing over 85% shares of East Wharf at Karachi Port to the Abu Dhabi Ports. It is also pushing the Ministry of Commerce to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Act (CEPA) with the UAE before the end of the term.
Pakistan’s economy is passing through a phase where the matters cannot be left for three months on just day-to-day decision making, a senior cabinet member said on the condition of anonymity.
In order to ensure that the IMF programme remains on track and the country completes the second review in November, there was a need that the caretaker government should have more powers to take decisions in economic matters. The government was mulling amending the Elections Act 2017 to empower the upcoming caretaker set-up to take decisions beyond its constitutional mandate with a view to ensure continuity of the recently rolled out economic plan and expedite the process aimed at receiving foreign investment in state-owned entities.
In July 2018, the then caretaker government wanted to enter into programme negotiations with the IMF, but the then law minister opposed it on the grounds that the interim set-up did not have such powers.
The sources said that the implementation of all the measures would require continuation of the current economic team. They said that because of this reason the PML-N top leadership wanted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to be appointed as the caretaker prime minister.
In that case, Tariq Bajwa, special assistant to PM on Finance, may continue working in his present position.
However, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s endorsement was needed for this arrangement. There might also be objections on the political affiliation of Ishaq Dar. If Dar is made the interim PM, he might not return in the next government as finance minister provided the current political dispensation makes a comeback.
The name of Hafeez Shaikh, former finance minister, has also been making the rounds for the position of caretaker prime minister.