Govt identifies over 24,000 properties for raising money

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has identified 24,066 public properties for raising money through their privatisation along with other sets of proposals to boost state finances under the austerity drive.

This was revealed by Finance Minister Asad Umar during a cabinet meeting held last month.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the cabinet was informed that data of public properties had been received from the federal government as well as from governments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

However, the information gathered so far did not appear to be satisfactory and dependable. Hence, there was a need to collect comprehensive and authentic data for making a decision.

The cabinet was told that there were 24,066 public properties which fell in three categories – rest house, residence and federal government property. Urban properties were at prime locations with clear economic incentives while some of the rural properties could also serve as attractive destinations, especially in K-P.

During the course of discussion, it was suggested that the properties at prime locations and suitable for sale should be handed over to the Privatisation Commission at the federal level for their disposal while similar properties could be transferred to an agency in provinces for their optimum utilisation.

After reviewing a presentation made by the finance minister about alternative uses of public properties, the cabinet decided to constitute a task force, headed by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, for coming up with proposals for the best possible use of such properties.

Earlier, the cabinet noted that a large sum of taxpayer money was being spent on these assets and funds were being diverted from critical projects.

The new Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was of the view that these assets had the potential to raise huge funds for the national exchequer.

The PTI government, in its first cabinet meeting, had considered several proposals to raise money under the austerity drive, which also included the proposal of handing over government properties and buildings to the Privatisation Commission for their sale to investors.

The government has divided its properties and buildings into three categories which included assets that would be privatised, leased and outsourced for public interest and commercial use by the public.

Cabinet members suggested that the properties could be offered to investors through a competitive process. Another proposal was that some buildings with scenic beauty and resorts could be leased and outsourced to credible and popular investor groups in the hotel and tourism business which would bring good returns.

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