KARACHI

The mother of steel industries in the country Pakistan Steel Mills has reached at the verge of collapse and again its privatisation issue has become talk of the town, especially after recent shutdown of its two major production units Steel Making Department and Iron Making Department.

The sources from the industry alleged that, this was a clear negligence of the authorities who were continuously demanding for a relief package but seen fail to retract the Mills.

It is believed that the incumbent government is seeking to hand over this national asset to private sector owing to financial crisis being faced by the PSM and government.

Previous government supported the PSM with Rs 40 billion while the current government supported the national entity with Rs 13.50 billion out of Rs 18.50 which was announced by the government to gear up the production activity at PSM.

Lethargic attitude of the management was the main reason that brought this gigantic asset at halt; the situation can be changed if authorities take proper measures for maintenance.

With production capacity of 10.1 million tons, Pakistan Steel is just working around 20-25 percent, in 1980’s it was great opportunity to enhance the production capacity of Steel Mills but it was neglected by various stakeholders, the sources informed.

On the basis of anonymity, an employee said that the number of employees are 15,000, working in an integrated Pakistan Steel Mills which comprises over twenty mills having fear about their future.

The news about top discuss national entity brought panic in employees who face some horrible consequences after enjoying the golden era of PSM. “I can’t forget those people who just got their wage by queuing up just ahead of Eid”.

It was golden memories which was not too old when my father supported the family easily during his job in PSM and we have so many opportunities being a resident of Steel Town where we have a standardised facility of health, education and other basic necessities of life but now facing bleak future as PSM has started its downhill trend, a youngster of farmer PSM employee informed to this scribe.

The management claims that PSM is viable and can give production after a bailout package from the government, without mentioning the ground realities of the plants.

In recent past, three week shutdown witnessed at Pakistan Steel Mills, now  some tapping observed from the recently repaired blast furnace of the only national steel producing unit. A huge stock of raw materials available but PSM production was on halt from last 21 days.

PSM was on a complete shut down from 8 October after a major disaster in steel making converter. The very next day morning the only working blast furnace was also blasted. Despite ministry concerns still no investigation or inquiry has been conducted for this mishap, and all corrupt officials still on the key posts.

PSM has to achieve the production target of 40pc in this October to get its next tranche of bailout package out of which Rs13.5 bullion was already received.

PSM CEO Zaheer Ahmed, appointed in April 2014, promised to bring the entity to a considerable production level, since it was at 5pc production level when he joined PSM. He demanded some necessary amount and on his business plan ECC approved Rs 18.5 billion bailout package in July 2014 in some installments based on performance. CEO faced a hard time as 3 months salary of employees was in pending at that time and no raw material was available.

In August, production again came at halt as PSM electricity, water supply cut down and PSM faced 13 days shut down. Despite all these hard factors, PSM CEO achieved production level up to 30pc till 8 October 2014, while cleared employees’ salaries up to August 2014.

Sources said that these 30 years old production plants installed by the Russians are misused and the inexperienced, corrupt officials criminally destroyed this national asset. No proper maintenance was done, and planned repair work was also neglected and nobody knows that where heavy budgets of repair had gone.

PSM senior officials are mainly responsible for this disaster as they enjoyed the privileges of being heads of different production plants, then as General Managers and now part of Executive Committee of management for each and every decision. They all are the part of Chief Executives and Chairman’s leading team in previous years of disaster.

Almost Rs59 billion have been spent on PSM during last 6 years; Rs40 billion in PPP govt and Rs18.5 billion in current govt but still PSM is showing more than Rs300 billion accumulated losses.