PSM workers assured of dues payment

Updated February 20, 2020

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A view of the deserted hot strip mill.—File photo
A view of the deserted hot strip mill.—File photo

KARACHI: Retired employees of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) on Wednesday were assured by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production Chairman Sajid Hussain Turi that the issue of early release of their outstanding dues amounting to Rs20 billion will be taken up with the government.

During a visit to PSM along with other committee members, Turi said that though $300 million is needed for the complete revival of the mill, an initial $50m will ensure partial revival of some units. Besides, the government should also look into the proposals from some international steel firms who are keen to run the mill, he added.

Meeting with the NA body members, retired employees said that some 180 retirees are in precarious health. Around 6,000 employees had retired from the Steel Mills from May 2013 to date while some 1,000 staff members have passed away.

Turi further appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to immediately have a briefing on the issue.

The committee members also took a round of the mills where PSM officials briefed them about production situation of various units.

Chairman PSM Board, Aamir Mumtaz informed the committee members that bulk of the country’s steel requirement is met through heavy import of steel products.

Mumtaz estimated that at least $300m is needed to run PSM with the production capacity of one million tonnes. “The mill can at least initiate production process with $50m under current circumstances. Some 12 international steel firms have shown interest in running the mill and these requests would be considered by March,” he added.

Turi assured the PSM management that the NA committee would support budgetary allocation for the mill in upcoming budget. The committee would also recommend for BISP and Sehat Cards for retired employees in order to improve their living standards.

Suzuki plant visited: Later, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production also visited Pak Suzuki Motor Company Ltd (PSMCL).

The committee chairman and members discussed quality issues and high prices of locally assembled cars.

PSMCL spokesman Shafiq Ahmed Sheikh claimed the company’s managing director had responded to the concerns over quality of locally produced vehicles in comparison to imported vehicles on which the committee members showed its satisfaction.

The committee was apprised about the reasons of rising prices including additional customs duty (ACD) of seven per cent on import of parts and accessories and imposition of federal excise duty (FED) by 2.5-7.5pc on various engine power and additional sales tax (AST) of 3pc.

Besides, rupee depreciation against the dollar had pushed up prices while high interest rates had depressed sales of vehicles through banks.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020