Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday ruled out any possibility of privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills, saying the government had approved a Rs 14.8 billion bailout package to make the entity financially sound and profitable. He also announced a package of Rs 2 billion for increase in salaries and benefits of the employees of PSM and directed the Ministry of Finance to release this amount before Eid. The Prime Minister was speaking at a ceremony during his visit to Pakistan Steel Mills, here.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, federal ministers Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Dr Asim Hussain, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Syed Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar and Secretary Production Gul Muhammad Rind were also present on the occasion. He said Pakistan Steel Mills was a national strategic asset and the government would provide all possible support towards its revival with a view to making it a profitable entity.
“It is very important institution for us as it [PSM] was founded by our great leader Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,” he said. “At the time of worst-ever economic condition, the establishment of a heavy industry like Pakistan Steel Mills was a great initiative taken by our Shaheed leader despite strong opposition from different sides,” he added. He recalled that the founder of Pakistan People”s Party Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came into power when Pakistan was passing through very difficult times. But it was the beginning of a new era in Pakistan under the visionary leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, he said. The establishment of Pakistan Steel Mills was one of the great achievements of PPP government, he said. The Prime Minister said the PSM management had given a business plan to the government which has been accepted and the government had approved Rs 14.8 billion bailout package for PSM.
He directed the ministry of finance to ensure timely payments under this package so that the objectives of the plan could be achieved. He asked the PSM workers to work hard to achieve their targets to increase production capacity of the PSM. He assured the PSM employees that on the achievement of 50 percent production capacity, the government will grant another Rs 1 billion package for increase of their salaries and benefits. He pointed out that the PSM is currently producing only 250,000 tons, much lower than its installed capacity of 1.1 million tons per annum.
He said the government has fulfilled its commitment and approved the bailout package and now it is the responsibility of the PSM management and its workers to increase its production up to its capacity level. The Prime Minister said some public sector entities are known as white elephants and they need billions of rupees annually to run their businesses.
They asked for bailout packages and the government has to provide them financial support, he said. The government”s financial resources that actually should be used for health, education and social sector infrastructure are used for these bailout packages, he added. “We should understand the situation,” he said adding that all the workers of these public sector entities should work to make them profitable. Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Production Chaudhry Anwar Ali Cheema thanked the prime minister for granting bailout package and assured that 100 percent production capacity target would be achieved.
Chairman Pakistan Steel Mills Major General Mohammad Javed (Retd) thanked the prime minister for granting Rs 14.8 billion bailout package saying the amount would be used in purchasing raw material which is important to increase production capacity of the PSM. He also thanked the minister for announcement of Rs 2 billion package for the salaries of PSM employees. He pointed out that the total loans of PSM rose to Rs 73 billion. He assured the prime minister that the PSM management and workers would work hard to achieve their targets set under the business plan.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012