The Islamabad airport would be outsourced for 15 years to improve its ‘operational activities’, Pakistan Minister for Aviation, Khawaja Saad Rafique said in the National Assembly, Geo News reported on Friday.
This comes at a time when Pakistan is battling a huge economic crisis, with staggering inflation and depleting Forex reserves.
The Minister however claimed that the move does not equate to privatisation, instead, “it aims to bring in proficient operators to enhance airport operations”.
He further emphasised that open competitive bidding would be ensured, allowing the best bidder to be given the opportunity to operate the airport, adding that the process will be profit-oriented, ultimately benefiting the national exchequer.
The International Finance Corporation will serve as the consultant, and already 12 to 13 companies have shown interest in participating in the bidding process, he added. He also assured that the process would be transparent and adhere to all rules and regulations.
However, the aviation minister said that the runway and navigation operations would not be included in the outsourcing process.
This action comes weeks after the IMF approved a USD 3 billion bailout to support Pakistan in avoiding a default on its debt repayments.
Other than this, Pakistan also received financial assistance from the UAE and Saudi Arabia totalling USD 1 billion and USD 2 billion, respectively, to strengthen its depleting reserves in addition to the IMF’s relief.
With sky-high inflation and foreign exchange reserves barely enough to cover one month of controlled imports, Pakistan has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, which analysts say could have spiralled into a debt default in the absence of the IMF deal.
The deal comes after an eight-month delay and offers some respite to Pakistan, which is battling an acute balance of payments crisis and falling foreign exchange reserves.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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