The federal cabinet yesterday approved the appointment of Jawaid Siddiqui as the chief executive officer of Pakistan Railway Freight Transportation Company.
This appointment brings forth a clear conflict of interest, considering that Siddiqui has been associated with the Marine Group for over a decade in top managerial positions that is participating in the outsourcing of freight wagons by Pakistan Railways.
Siddiqui has attended such meetings for the group as well, a source told ProPakistani.
Siddiqui has held several positions in Marine Group Companies, including Pakistan Intermodal Limited, Marine Logistics, and Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT).
Pakistan railways are privatizing their freight business to increase competition and make the loss-making state-owned enterprise financially viable.
The appointment may risk the participation of foreign investors in the privatization process. The Minister for Privatization, Mohammed Mian Soomro, said in May that several international investors and companies are ready to invest billions of dollars in Pakistan in multiple sectors, including railways.
Previously, similar allegations have been made regarding the group in the case of Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT), the only coal handling terminal in the country.
Their clients in the cement, textile, and power industries have made claims in the past that PIBT has been exploiting its monopolistic position to charge them exorbitant handling charges and cause heavy demurrage due to delayed berthing of vessels owing to limited handling capacity. This is directly impacting their export competitiveness, leading to an outflow of foreign exchange and increasing costs for the general public.
There are concerns that a similar model is being put in place for coal, oil, food grains, and container-related transport, which would further fuel inflationary pressures, said the source.
Pakistan Railways, which is among the nation’s top three-loss-making government entities, is privatizing to reduce the burden of losses on the national exchequer.