Stakeholders asked to explain proposals for PSM revival

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ISLAMABAD: The government has sought an explanation from the Pakistan Steel Mills Stakeholders Group (PSMSG) over proposals made by it for the revival of the PSM closed since June 2015.

The group comprising employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers and contractors of the PSM has been asking the federal government and parliamentary panels for revival of the mills and investigation into the causes of its losses, corruption and closure.

The group, which has claims of more than Rs75 billion over the mills on various accounts, has argued that the problem did not relate to the mills but arise from the people who have been running its affairs.

In recent communications to the government, including the prime minister and interactions with the parliamentary panels, the PSMSG has proposed steps for the mills’ recovery, including rationalisation of steel imports to provide level-playing field to all players that would help revive the PSM and generate more than Rs100bn revenue for the Federal Board of Revenue per annum.

On the directives of the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production, the PSMSG has been approached by the corporate secretary of the mills to provide details of its proposals on at least four major counts. The Senate committee had recently “directed the PSM chairman and the Finance Division to sit with PSMSG convener Mumrez Khan in relation to the revival plan of the Steel Mills and send recommendations”.

The group has been asked to come up with explanations as to which steel products required rationalisation of import tariff and also provide details of its suggestion as to how Rs150bn financial recovery could be made possible from persons at fault through initiation of a transparent accountability process.

The PSM corporate secretary has also asked the group to provide follow-up details of its proposal to the performance audit of the management and board of directors of the mills and their appointing authorities and support its argument that the national kitty had suffered losses of $11bn from 2006 to 2019 due to non-performance of the accountability bureau and blunders of other agencies and top personalities of successive governments.

The group had complained to Prime Minister Imran Khan that the revival plan proposed by it through appointment of professional management and transparent accountability was in line with his pre-election promises as opposed to switching priorities of his advisers for privatisation or public-private partnership. It alleged that the advisers had hired private consultants who were blamed by the Supreme Court for botched privatisation in 2006 and hence a conflict of interest and in the process lost almost 16 months and about Rs55bn in revenue, leading to its total liabilities and losses to Rs515bn from Rs460bn in July 2018.

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