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A joint sitting of the Parliament on Monday passed "The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2016" to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company. It also passed "The Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2016." The proceeding of the House remained suspended for two hours as opposition wanted to discuss first the issue of the Panama Papers while the government wanted to take up the legislation.

Opposition Leader in the Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan said that first the government should write a letter to concerned authority to withdraw all the cases which were lodged against the PIA employees and the show-cause notices served during their protest before taking up any legislation. Finance Minster Ishaq Dar said the government had already made a commitment that it would withdraw all administrative cases except those which are before courts. He said he would try to withdraw these cases within 24 hours. "I hereby give a commitment on the floor of the House," he declared. Aitzaz said that we do not believe in the government and it first should write a letter of Managing Director (MD) PIA to withdraw cases and show-cause notices against the employees.

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Saddiq while adjourning the House for Zohr break asked the treasury and opposition members to settle the issue. During the break which lasted for two hours, opposition members Syed Naveed Qamar, Colonel Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi (Retd), Shehryar Afridi and Shabzada Taqirullah held a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Law Minister Zahid Hamid to discuss withdrawal of cases against the PIA employees.

When the House met again, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar assured the opposition that all the administrative actions against national airline''s employees will be withdrawn by Tuesday (today). Later, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid moved "The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2016" for its passage.

Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilour of National Awami National Party (ANP) said that his party was not taken into confidence on the Bill. Afterwards, the ANP members staged a token walkout from the House. Zahid Hamid said that the Committee approved the Bill with consensus of all its opposition and treasury members. Afterwards, the Speaker presented the Bill clause by clause in the house for its passage. The joint sitting of the parliament approved the Bill. According to the Bill, "conversion of corporation into a company.- (i) The corporation shall be deemed to have been converted into a public company limited by shares with effect from the commencing date.

(2) As and from the commencing date,-

(a) the company shall be deemed to hold and own all assets and liabilities of the corporation without any conveyance, alienation or assignment and without any further act, deed or registration and without discharging or invalidating any contract; and

(b) without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing clause, the company shall.-

(i) be entitled to the benefit of all notifications, licenses, permissions, sanctions, authorisations, concessions, decrees, air service agreements, orders and benefits whatsoever issued or granted in favour of the corporation as on the commencing date, including but not limited to the permission connected with the listing of the securities of the Corporation on the relevant stock exchanges; and

(ii) be deemed to have taken over and shall be entitled to enforce, all rights, licenses, grants and concessions and to have assumed all liabilities of the Corporation and shall be liable to pay and discharge all liabilities of every description and nature whatsoever of the Corporation.

(3) The shareholders of the Company shall be deemed without any fresh issuance of shares to own and hold the same number of fully paid shares with such rights and privileges (including as to class, kind and face value) as they owned and Company shall be deemed to be equivalent to the authorised capital of the Corporation as on the commencing date and no fee or charges shall be payable in this regard.

(4) All proceedings of every description and nature whatsoever by or against or relating to the Corporation pending on the commencing date in any court, tribunal, or other authority shall be continued, defended, prosecuted and enforced by or against or relating to the Corporation, and the same shall not abate, be discontinued, prejudiced or otherwise affected by the provisions of this Act.

(5) The Company shall be deemed to be the successor-in-interest of the Corporation, and the name of the Company shall be deemed to have been substituted for the name of the Corporation in all contracts, agreements, licenses, orders, certificates, powers of attorney, consents, undertakings, leases, grants, concessions, records of Central Depository Company of Pakistan Limited and all other instruments or documents of every description and nature whatsoever relating to the Corporation and no objection shall be entertained by any court, tribunal or authority in regard to such substitution or on the ground that any such contract, agreement or document as aforesaid was, or is, I, or with, the name of the Corporation and not the Company.

(6) All employees of the Corporation shall be deemed to be employees of the Company on the same remuneration and other conditions of service, rights and privileges including but not limited to the provisions as to their pension, provident fund and gratuity, as the case may be, and other matters as were applicable to them before the conversion, including all existing retirement benefits of the employees whether funded or non-funded:

Provided that -

(i) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law, or any decision of any court or tribunal, the employees of the Company shall continue to be governed by non-statutory contractual terms, conditions, rules and regulations which shall not acquire, or be deemed to have acquired or be treated as having acquired, statutory status;

(ii) No person deemed to be employed by the Company under this section shall be entitled to any compensation or benefit as a consequence of the conversion of the Corporation into a Company;

(iii) The salaries, emoluments and all other terms of service of employees, whether permanent or contractual, shall not be changed to their disadvantage; and

(iv) Pensions and other existing obligations of the Corporation to retired employees shall not be changed to their disadvantage.

(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 146 of the Companies Ordinance, the Company shall, upon conversion, continue all business and undertakings of the Corporation as were being carried on immediately prior to the commencing date.

4. Power to pass orders for the transfer of assets.-

(1) During the validity period and subject to a prior Company request, the Federal Government may issue orders providing for the transfer of specified assets to a relevant entity substantially on the terms set forth in the relevant arrangement.

(2) The orders shall be binding on the Company, the relevant entity and any other person having any right, claim or liability in relation to the Company or any relevant entity.

(3) As and from the date specified in the order, the specified assets shall, by virtue and to the extent provided in the relevant order, stand transferred to, and vest in, the relevant entity, without nay conveyance, alienation or assignment and without any further act, deed or registration and without discharging or invalidating any contract, and be subject to the terms of the relevant order in all cases.

(4) Representation on the Board of Directors and all other rights and privileges of shareholders of the Company, or any of its subsidiary companies carrying on air-transport business, shall be proportionate to their share-holding.

Explanation: Management control of the Company and any of its subsidiary companies in the above circumstances shall continue to vest in the majority shareholder, which shall be the Federal Government and whose share shall not be less than fifty one percent.

(5) The Federal Government shall carry out or cause to be carried out valuation of the assets of the Company, and its subsidiary companies carrying on air-transport business, by a recognised valuator before transferring any shares of these companies to a third party.

(6) The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 (Ordinance XXII of 2002) and rules framed thereunder, as presently applicable, shall continue to apply to all transactions under this Act.

5. Guarantees to remain in force.- Notwithstanding the repeal of the PIAC Act, all guarantees. given by the Federal Government to any person, including foreign or local institutions, to secure any of the liabilities of the Corporation shall remain in full force and affect as though they were given on behalf of the Company.

6. Waiver from taxes, duties, fees etc - The Federal Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, waive any tax, duty, fee or any other charge that may be payable under any Federal law for the time being in force.

7. Name and Headquarters of Company.- (1) The name of the Company shall not be changed without the consent, in writing, of the Federal Government.

(2) The Headquarters of the Company and any of its subsidiary companies carrying on air-transport business shall be at Karachi.

8. No gain or loss.- Neither the conversion nor the transfer of any asset of the Company through an order shall given rise to any gain or loss under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 (XLX of 2001).

9. Act to override.- The provisions of this Act and the orders issued hereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force.

10. Removal of transitional difficulties:-lf any difficulty arises during the validity period in giving effect to any provision of this Act, the Federal Government may, be notification in the official Gazette, make such provisions as may appear to it to be necessary for the purpose of removing the difficulty.

11. Repeal- (1) The PIAC Act is hereby repealed.

(2) On repeal of PIAC Act under sub-section (1), nothing contained in the said Act shall be applicable to the Company, its shareholders or any other person that may have had interest in the Corporation immediately prior to the conversion.

According to objectives of "The Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016, "the privatisation process in Pakistan must be entirely transparent and conducted in a manner that will protect Pakistan''s economic and strategic interest, both in the short and the long term. The privatisation process must, therefore, be improved in order to guarantee greater efficiency, openness and transparency in every privatisation transaction. Pakistan''s Strategic assets and national security interests must also be safeguarded and secured during this process."

According to objectives of "The Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2016, "the Bill seeks to ensure that this practice of "outsourcing" Pakistan Civil Servants to International Organisation ceases, and they serve the State of Pakistan only in their official capacity."

According to "The Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the overseas Pakistanis are playing a pivotal role in the development and growth of their motherland by sending large remittances and coming to the help of their brethren every time they were hit by a natural calamity in the recent years, however, they are facing with serious issue pertaining to illegal possession of their properties in Pakistan by Qabza Mafia and individual persons. There is need to provide a forum for protection of their legitimate property rights in their absence."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016

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