ISLAMABAD: There is no choice for the government, but to find a strategic partner for Pakistan Steel after having invested more in its restructuring, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production was informed here on Thursday.
CEO Steel Mills Wasif Mehmood told the committee that the mills was operating at three per cent of its capacity in January 2014, but its monthly salary bill was around Rs500 million, as a result its losses have accumulated to Rs103 billion.
Chairman of the Committee Asad Umar, described the situation as pathetic, and said figures shows that the mills had been a profitable entity under the military setup.
“This also means that political interference was a key reason for worsening conditions of the state-owned enterprises.” The situation seems to be similar even in the current government, Mr Umar added.
His remarks invited comments from members, including MNAs of ruling PML-N who criticised the minister and bureaucracy in the Ministry of Industries and Production for creating a state of confusion.
“There is total lack of interest from the minister who did not bother to come and the secretary has left the meeting,” said Mian Abdul Mannan, PML-N MNA from Faisalabad.
The committee was informed that the government would have to pay around Rs52bn if the mills is closed.
“The plan is to go for restructuring of the mills and then to look for a strategic partner,” said Chairman, Privatisation Commission, Mohammad Zubair.
“It is expected that the restructuring plan will be finalised in one month,” he further said.
Restructuring plan would have to be submitted to the committee and its recommendations would be incorporated in the final draft for the ECC.
“Bureaucrats have been telling different stories at different forums, we need to have a closer look into the situation,” Mohammad Muzzamil Qureshi of MQM said.
“We need to come up with something serious — this restructuring will cost money and it is likely to go waste,” Iftikharuddin from Chitral, the lone MNA of Musharraf’s APML added.
The committee took notice of payment of huge subsidies for sugar and fertiliser. It was informed that in 2010 a sum of Rs8.45bn was paid on sugar.