Sindh’s decision on PSM offer awaited, says Zubair

Published October 15, 2015
Zubair says the offer had been made in view of the provincial government’s desire to take over the mill.—APP/File
Zubair says the offer had been made in view of the provincial government’s desire to take over the mill.—APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Privatisation Commis­sion Mohammad Zubair said on Wednesday that the federal government expected a decision by the Sindh government in a few weeks on the issue of taking over the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

“On our part we have completed the process, and now are waiting for the Sindh government to respond to the federal government’s offer,” he said at a press conference.

Mr Zubair said the Privatisation Commission ensured transparency in every transaction. But, he added, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation was not empowered to offer the mill to the Sindh government.

Also read: PSM will be offered to Sindh government

Nevertheless, the offer had been made in view of the provincial government’s desire to take over the mill, he said. It was similar to the offer made to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about taking over the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco). Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had proposed in 2014 that Pesco should be handed over to the KP government and, in response, Federal Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif had offered to the provincial government to take over the company.

Mr Zubair said the PSM had incurred losses of Rs120 billion till March 2015, including taxes of Rs33 billion. But the mill management has not informed the commission about the losses.

The offer has drawn criticism from political leaders and legislators. Mr Zubair responded to the criticism made by Senator Saleem Mandviwala and urged legislators and politicians to avoid giving unprofessional advices and, instead, praise the government’s decisions.

“As many as 180 million people are looking towards us and we all equally share the responsibility,” the minister said.

He said the commission, its members and the transaction committee were working efficiently and the commission had received an international award for outstanding capital market transactions.

He said it took four to five years to complete a transaction and the challenge was to complete a transaction in a transparent way.

“Since the beginning of the privatisation process in the country, difficult transactions have been left with us but we are committed to adhering to the timeline,” Mr Zubair said.

He said the commission was currently working on 25 important transactions.

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation has approved the transaction structure of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company and the commission has started the process of divestment.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2015

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