NAB closes inquiry into Pakistan Steel Mills shutdown

Tribune

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has closed inquiry regarding the shutdown of Pakistan Steel Mills. Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production informed Senate Standing Committee on Industries here on Wednesday.

He said losses of the steel mill had accumulated to Rs212 billion and that different options are under consideration to revive the mill.

The agenda of the committee entailed comprehensive briefing on the initiatives taken for revival of the PSM and establishment of Industrial Zones across the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The meeting commenced with the briefing on steel mills and initiatives for its revival. The committee was informed the Pakistan Steel Mills was established with the techno-financial assistance of ex-Soviet Union at the cost of Rs24.7 billion. It earned an accumulated profit amounting to Rs9.54 billion in 2007-08.

The committee was further informed that in 2015 PSM was granted a bailout package that led to 42% capacity utilisation.

During that period gas pressure was massively reduced by SSGC due to which production declined. PSM was put on the privatisation list for a long while, however, now, on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan it has been delisted and an operational plan is being worked out.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmed Khan while evaluating the revival options presented by the Ministry, said that if a private party is successful in restructuring and reinstating this industry, the question remains, what prevents the government in doing so.

Senator Kulsoom Parveen was of the view that two issues have contributed greatly towards the current state of the PSM; short supply of gas and high interest rate of loans that were procured to run it.

She recommended that interest applied to the loan may be waived.

Meanwhile, Senator Aurangzeb Khan stressed the need for strong action, so PSM contributes to the country’s economy. He said this was a priceless asset and must be utilised to its full potential. The committee recommended members visit the PSM site and review issues on ground.

It was suggested that Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak and Senator Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum be invited to accompany members so the committee benefit from their expertise and experience.

While deliberating over Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC, the Committee took strict notice of issues that pertained to it and was of the view that under present conditions it was impossible that the common man benefit from it.

While reviewing projects to be launched in 2019, Senator Sitara Ayaz showed concern regarding the Rashakai Economic Zone, and said ground-breaking was virtually impossible, since land acquisition had not been completed yet.

The committee showed displeasure regarding lack of incentives.

Chairman Committee Senator Ahmed Khan gave directives for a sub-committee to be formed to review this matter in great details. He stressed need for this project to reap maximum benefits for those at the bottom of the pyramid

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