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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran says funds generated from the sale of unused land will be used for welfare projects. Image Credit: AFP/file

Dubai: In yet another desperate attempt to generate funds to support the ailing economy of the country, Pakistan government has decided to sell state-owned unsed land at the Expo 2020, Dubai.

The decision was taken in a meeting head by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Wednesday.

The main aim of selling the previous unutilised state properties is to attract foreign and overseas Pakistani investors to Pakistan. The funds generated through the expected sale will be spent on public welfare schemes related to education, housing, health and food.

During the meeting on the abandoned state properties owned by the various government departments, Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed that various ministries had identified 32 properties for privatisation. “These unutilised state properties will be marketed at the Expo 2020 Dubai to attract foreign and Pakistani investors to buy them,” Rizwan Malik, Pakistan’s Privatisation Secretary informed the Prime Minister. The six-month-long Expo 2020 Dubai is scheduled to start on October 20, 2020. It means that Pakistan will have to wait for more than 10 months to materialise its project of selling the government assets.

Imran noted that despite having properties worth billions of rupees, state institutions were bearing losses of billions of rupees every year, Dawn news reported.

“Utilisation of properties worth billions of rupees will help generate funds which will be spent by the government on public welfare schemes such as schools, colleges, hospitals. It is an important component of the government’s policy,” said Imran.

“Unfortunately, criminal negligence was done by the previous governments as they did not utilising these valuable properties. Despite billions of rupees’ assets, various federal government institutions are bearing losses of billions of rupees every year,” he added.

Imran's warning

Prime Minister Imran warned to take strict action against government officials who would fail to identify unused properties or tried to hinder the government move.

He also directed the Asset Management Committee and federal ministries as well as provincial governments to resolve all issues related to identified properties within a week and implement the government decision immediately.

32 properties identified

Privatization Commission Secretary Rizwan Malik said under the decisions of the federal cabinet taken early this year, every ministry was tasked to identify at least three such properties. In the first phase, different ministries had identified 32 such properties so far.

Services of a financial adviser were hired in October for making assessment value of these properties, and giving final shape to the future mechanism in this regard.

Foreign loans

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government took $10.4 billion worth of foreign loans in its first year in power and 46% of these were short-term expensive commercial lending, secured at up to 5.5% interest rate, The Express Tribune reported.

The most expensive commercial loans were obtained from Chinese banks that were contracted at six-month Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (Shibor) plus 2.5%, according to the information that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Wednesday submitted before the National Assembly.

The PTI government obtained loans of $10.4 billion from various countries and organisations from August 18 to September 30, 2019, according to the official statistics. Out of the $10.4 billion, the PTI government took $4.8 billion from seven commercial banks, which were equal to 46% of the total borrowing.