ISLAMABAD: The workers union of State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) has rejected the plan for privatising the state-owned insurance giant and turning it into a public limited company, saying it will deal a blow to the rights of orphans and widows, who hold 99% of statutory funds of the corporation.
Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce Tuesday, SLIC Labour Union President Shahid Waheed argued that the State Life Insurance Corporation (Re-organisation and Conversion) Bill 2016 contained many anti-worker clauses and it had been finalised without approval of the cabinet, which was against democratic practices.
He revealed that State Life had a total of Rs620-billion in statutory funds, of which 99% were held by the premium policyholders, which would be misused if the company was privatised.
“Under the proposed law, the government has failed to come up with a viable solution and a workable strategy for the future of country’s largest profitable organisation,” he said.
Waheed emphasised that dedicated workers of the company were working honestly and any intervention in the name of privatisation or turning it into a limited company would have long-lasting implications. “The process will destroy the rights of workers as the government owns only 1% of statutory funds, which will be misused,” he said.
The union president pointed out that the government introduced an anti-worker ordinance on April 6 without waiting for the Senate session, which met the very next day, to avoid protest from the opposition. “I urge the committee to reject the bill and let the company remain in its present shape,” he requested.
The committee did not give its approval to the bill in the wake of objections raised by the union and employees and would take up the bill again in the next meeting slated for September 27.
Committee Chairman Senator Shibli Faraz suggested that in the presence of cabinet, only the approval of prime minister was tantamount to a dictatorial approach and against democratic practices.
“We are not approving the bill in its present shape due to a number of discrepancies and will suggest amendments in the next huddle,” he said.
Faraz aired concern over the government’s move to turn State Life into a public limited company, saying it would hurt the interest of workers.
Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir, while giving his point of view, clarified that the government had neither any plan to privatise State Life nor would it happen in the future.
“I assure you that State Life will not be privatised at least in our tenure because it is the only leading profit-making organisation,” he said, adding its administrative control would also not be given to anyone.
“The step (turning SLIC into a public limited company) is being taken only to streamline administration by modernising its functions,” he said.
PPP Senator Saleem Mandviwalla argued that if the government had no plan to privatise the company, then why its name was in the list of enterprises to be sold as well as on the website of the Privatization Commission.
Dastgir replied that the list had been drawn up by the previous government and the current administration did not agree with it.