Commerce Ministry blamed for delay in Slic privatisation

Hamza HabibOur Correspondent

03rd Sep, 2021. 09:00 pm

ISLAMABAD: The Privatisation Commission has put the entire blame for delay in the privatisation process of the State Life Corporation (Slic) on the Ministry of Commerce, saying that despite repeated follow-ups no progress has so far been achieved.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation, held under the chairmanship of Senator Shamim Afridi on Friday, Privatisation Commission secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy said that the Privatisation Commission approached the Commerce Ministry multiple times to complete the prerequisite actions regarding the corporatisation of Slic through the legislative process and to enable the commission proceed further but to no avail. Jamy said directives should be given for expediting the long-awaited corporatisation process of Slic.

Briefing on the privatisation process and considerations, the Privatisation Commission secretary said that the Slic (Re-Organization and Conversion) Ordinance 2016, was issued on April 6, 2016 for re-organisation and conversion of Slic (a statutory corporation) into a public limited company, i.e., State Life Insurance Company Limited.

The ordinance was presented in the Parliament as Slic (Re-Organization and Conversion) Bill 2016 and was passed by the National Assembly on May 11, 2016. However, the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce proposed a few amendments to be incorporated in the bill, which could not be finalised.

Presently, the proposed legislation relating to the corporatisation of Slic stands lapsed and the process has to be reinitiated by the Ministry of Commerce.

The chair with the consensus of the committee members sought a briefing from the Ministry of Commerce on the assumed blockades by the ministry on the privatisation process. The chair also summoned the Ministry of Law and Justice to brief on the legislation issue.

Detailed briefing by the State Life Insurance, regarding its privatisation process, over-staffing and other issues also came under discussion.

The State life Insurance chairman apprised the committee that the life insurance business in Pakistan was nationalised in 1972.

He highlighted that the 97.5 per cent surplus utilisation of the Lino is allocated for policyholders and 2.5 per cent is allocated for the federal government and provides an undertaking by the federal government with regard to the policyholders. While briefing the committee on the structural overview of the State Life Insurance Corporation, the Slic chairman informed the committee that there are seven regional offices, 33 zonal offices, 166 sector offices and 1,242 area offices.

It was also informed that the life, group and health business lines have 2,352 officers, 2,284 staff, 1,243 area managers and 134,205 field forces.

The committee chairman sought a report on the number of retired employees and pensioners of Slic and those working on extension. He also proposed that instead of reducing the number of regular employees, retired officers and officers re-inducted on extension should be removed. This will reduce the financial burden on the organisation.

The Slic chairman said there are approximately 10 to 20 employees on extension; however, he was not sure on the definite number and said that he will provide it in the next meeting.

Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar raised the question of salary or staple for the field staff, which, he termed, the “driving force of the organisation”.

“It is unfortunate to know that the key workers contributing to the salaries of the departments are given no earnings at all,” Senator Kakar said.

“It is a corporal biased and an extremely screwed up approach,” he added. The field force belongs to the miserable and lower class of the society and there is no means of income for their survival.

The Slic chairman informed the committee that 80,000 workers on the field are active workers and are being offered medical and group insurance. The Slic chairman also said as per the regulations a permanent employee is deemed as a full employee of the organisation; however, the field force employees have no restrictions on a part-time basis.

He said the State Life pays the highest commission, medical and group insurances.

During the meeting, reconsideration of the bill Titled “The Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021” moved by the minister for privatisation in the Senate meeting held on June 23, 2021 was deferred.

The committee expressed sorrow and grief over the demise of Kashmiri veteran leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and offered Fateha for elevation of ranks for the departed soul.

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