Pakistan, facing a severe cash shortage, has reportedly decided to outsource the operations of Islamabad International Airport.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, under the Shahbaz Sharif-led government, has instructed stakeholders to finalise the necessary procedures for outsourcing by 12 August.
The decision is being made ahead of the end of the current government's term and the dissolution of the National Assembly on 13 August.
During a meeting chaired by the finance minister, instructions were given to the relevant departments to complete amendments to civil aviation laws and develop a restructuring plan for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by the end of the month.
The amendments aim to separate the functions of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, PIA, and Airports Security Force to avoid overlapping responsibilities.
The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), acting as the transaction adviser for the outsourcing, briefed the meeting on the roadmap for the process.
The Economic Coordination Committee had previously decided to initiate a 25-year outsourcing plan for operations and land assets at Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi airports in a public-private partnership to boost foreign exchange.
Pakistan, grappling with a balance of payments crisis and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, recently secured a $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) will provide the total amount over a nine-month period and aims to help stabilize the economy while creating room for social and development spending through improved domestic revenue mobilisation and careful spending execution, as stated by the IMF.
Despite the sizable IMF bailout, Pakistan will still need to seek multilateral and bilateral financial support as it requires $22 billion to meet its external payment obligations, including international debt servicing, in the fiscal year 2024, according to a Reuters report.
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