State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha on Thursday announced that public-owned companies of Qatar plan to run Islamabad and Karachi airports as per an understanding reached between the two sides during a visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Qatar.
Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that the government was not able to run the public-owned companies and even profitable public companies are suffering losses. “It is important to privatise them to turn them into profitable institutions,” she said, adding that Qatar has expressed interest in investments in the country.
She lamented that the power sector was given more funds than defence during the last fiscal year owing to circular debt in the sector.
A media report Wednesday stated while quoting the Qatari ruler’s office that the Qatar Investment Authority aims to invest $3 billion in Pakistan, lending support to the South Asian nation’s cash-strapped economy.
Pakistan is in economic turmoil and faces a balance of payments crisis, with foreign reserves having dropped as low as $7.8 billion, barely enough for more than a month of imports. It is also contending with a widening current account deficit, weakening rupee currency, and inflation that exceeded 24 per cent in July.
“The Qatar Investment Authority announced its aspiration to invest $3 billion in various commercial and investment sectors in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the Emiri Diwan said, without giving details.
The announcement was made during a visit to Doha by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who held official talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Wednesday after a meeting with the QIA on Tuesday.
Doha has shown interest in airport management partnership and the Roosevelt Hotel in New York’s Manhattan owned by Pakistan International Airlines, said two Pakistani aviation officials involved in the talks.
The officials said Pakistan has offered a 25 per cent stake in the hotel. It shut down in late 2020 during the slump in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic and has remained closed, in part due to lack of financing and management disputes.
“Qatar has shown interest in taking over terminal and cargo services at Islamabad airport,” one of the officials said, adding other airports, such as Karachi, could also be considered later on.