There seems to be an false belief that if a public company is profitable it should be kept in the hands of those in government instead of private owners. Is it too outrageous to think that in certain cases the government control over the resources is so complete that there is no choice but to turn a profit, despite the utter incompetence of the government? Is it also too outrageous to think that in private hands not only the quality but also the quantity might increase to a much higher level for the same company?
Socialism hasn’t improved the lot of Pakistan in so many decades, and it’s going to remain this way unless we change the way we have been doing things. Public ownership simply means that the resources are controlled by a handful of people temporarily in power. These temporary owners have no long term stake in the business, and as a result are more concerned with the short term gains. Most of these gains are for their own self interest, which is how humans normally behave. Now there is nothing wrong with catering to one’s self interest. The problem in case of a public country is that the resources belong to everyone, meaning their responsibility lies with no one really.
Private enterprises belong to individuals. These private owners also behave the same way the public owners behave -they also work for their own self interest. The difference is that to profit and protect their assets they are forced to use their resources more efficiently. If they fail to remain efficient they end up with a loss and unlike a public company don’t have the government to bail them out. To survive competition they must find a way to serve the public.
Pakistan isn’t the only country facing this dilemma to privatize pubic companies. Britain a century and a half ago came to a crossroads. The only difference was that they choose to repeal the protectionist Corn Laws and removed all restrictions and subsidies. The free market and the resultant prosperity ushered Britain into a growth spurt of unprecedented proportions. The lot of the entire empire improved, and even the poor started becoming rich. Lets not ask government to keep doing what has been failing year after year. We have no electricity, no clean water, no security, no law and order, no proper medicine, no proper railway, no reasonable airline, and yet we continue to blindly believe the government that is in charge of all these is going to be our savior.
Lets take a different path, not where government only sells to the rich, but a path where the privatization allows anyone to buy the shares and benefit from this privatization. A free market where the people have a choice to become part owners in good companies and the potential growth and benefits that come with it. Whatever the government can do, the private enterprise can do much better.