PSM’s revival

Published April 20, 2024

AMIDST the present economic upheaval, there has been a debate on whether the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM)should be revived or privatised. It is vital to know the reasons for PSM woes before discussing the possibility of its revival.

Being an ex-employee, I can say this much with confidence that massive corruption, mismanagement, overstaffing, nepotism and labour misadventures corroded the very structure of the organisation, and plunged it into deep financial turmoil. There was a time when a package of around Rs30 billion was needed in one go to bring things under control, but it was denied, and the amount was subsequently issued in parts that were consumed in the payment of salaries etc. Things thereafter went from bad to worse at a quick pace till there came a stage when no package could save the PSM anymore.

One of the bitter facts about the present PSM status is that all its major equipment is more than 50 years old, and needs extensive repair and renovation. Moreover, the local steel market is flooded with cheaper imported and smuggled products, making it just about impossible for the PSM to compete even if it is revived.

The only way out is to either privatise the unit, or to enter into a joint venture with whosoever is ready to invest.

The sad part in the whole scenario is that no one seems interested anymore in investing in this sunken ship except the land mafia, which is eyeing the lucrative PSM land, and the scrap dealers, who are waiting to have their long-awaited feast. The fate of the PSM stands practically sealed at this point.

Malik ul Quddoos
Karachi

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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