Pakistan News

NA panel wants NAB to probe Pakistan Steel Mills shutdown

NA panel wants NAB to probe Pakistan Steel Mills shutdown

ISLAMABAD: The Nat­ional Assembly’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production on Thursday recommended that the case related to the closure of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) because of unexplained suspension of gas supply to it and illegal withdrawal of salaries of retired employees be forwarded to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for investigation.

The committee met here to discuss reasons for disconnecting of gas supply to the PSM which led to complete shutdown of all production operations of the entity though it was operating in the normal course.

The committee expressed serious concern over non-payment of salary and pension to thousands of employees of the PSM and recommended that the Ministry of Industries and Production must ensure immediate release of salary and pension to all PSM employees.

The committee was briefed by Federal Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz who said that the government had to get rid of institutions persistently causing annual losses of billions of rupees.

Concern over non-payment of salaries, pensions to thousands of employees

He claimed that sick public sector enterprises and entities were causing losses of over Rs600 billion annually to the government.

Mr Aziz said that the government was fully aware of the problems of retired employees and widows of the PSM employees and asserted that Rs322 million had been paid to widows of the PSM employees.

He assured the committee of ensuring speedy payment of the remaining amount to widows of the former PSM employees.

“We have responsibility of payment of pending dues to all retired employees of the PSM, but at the same time we also have the responsibility to control huge losses in the public sector enterprises,” Mr Aziz said.

However, Mr Asad Umar, the Chairman of the Committee, argued that the PSM was operating with profitability for seven years in the Musharraf era which showed that there was potential in the entity to make progress and earn more profit, but the main issue was incompetence and lack of decision making on the part of the government which led to this unfortunate situation.

“There are deliberate efforts to des­troy steel production in the country and benefit steel importers,” Mr Umar said.

The committee members noted that despite acknowledgement by all relevant authorities, including the minister for industries, that gas supply to the PSM would not be disconnected, it was done and as a result the PSM had stopped all production operations and now there was no way out,” Mr Umar regretted.

The committee was also briefed by Zaigham Rizvi, the CEO of Twarqi Steel Mills, Karachi, who said that their case related to gas feed stock and its price was pending at the ECC for three years.

Mr Umar said that steel mills, owned by Hussain Nawaz in Jeddah, had been bought by Twarqi group.

The committee was infor­m­ed that Pakistan was primarily an import-dependent country in iron and steel sector, but Mr Rizvi said that there was a potential in revival of the PSM and the Twarqi Steel Mills, but only decision making was required.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017

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