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Govt to Handover PIA to Qatar

The government plans to offer 51 percent stakes in Roosevelt Hotel, New York, and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to Qatar, reported Express Tribune. It had previously decided to sell two LNG power plants, Haveli Bahadur Shah and Balloki, to the gulf country. The decision was made in a meeting convened to prepare for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Qatar next week. The prime minister also created a committee to finalize these proposals urgently before his departure. The Minister of Finance, Miftah Ismail, and former prime minister Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi also attended the meeting.
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Previously, the government was planning to sell two LNG power plants to Qatar to raise funds. However, some quarters raised concerns that the power plants might not be able to raise funds as they already owe an Rs. 104 billion debt. The government might only be able to secure $500-600 million, excluding the liabilities, which is not the best price, they claimed. Currently, the National Power Parks Management Company Limited (NPPMCL) owns the 1,230 megawatts (MW) Haveli Bahadur Shah and 1,223MW Balloki power plants.
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In a recent press conference, Finance Minister, Miftah Ismail included the sale proceeds of the two power plants in his $8.5 billion foreign inflow estimates, which he wanted to raise in FY23 to bridge the external financing gap of $35 billion. The meeting also decided that along with the 51% stakes in the Roosevelt Hotel and the PIA, the government would also transfer the operational control to Qatar. However, PIA laws do not allow for the sale of more than 49 percent of stakes and handing over operational control. The government has also decided to immediately initiate the legal procedure to amend the PIA law to suit their initiative.
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The Roosevelt Hotel is owned by the PIA through PIA-Investment Limited. The PIA-IL holds its stakes through a subsidiary that is registered in the British Virgin Islands. The hotel, located at a highly-priced location, was closed in December 2020.

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