KARACHI: PTI Karachi Organizer, Ali Zaidi has expressed reservations over a possible acquisition of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) by the Sindh government . In a statement, Zaidi raising various question said, “First of all, the federal government should clarify what it wants to do with Pakistan Steel Mills . Secondly, if we assume that media reports are accurate that the federal government is offering it to the Sindh government for purchase, will this transaction be discussed in the Council of Common Interest to seek approval from the remaining provinces as PSM is considered a national asset?  Thirdly, what is the motivation and rationale for the Sindh government to acquire PSM, this should immediately be intimated to the people of Sindh.  Fourthly, there appears confusion among the Sindh cabinet over this offer as the Sindh Finance Minister is denying any knowledge of it while the Chief Minister is reported to be eager to consider the federal government’s offer, so what is the true picture?”

Zaidi expressed fears that the acquisition of PSM by the Sindh government would become a fiefdom for PPP cronies and be used for corruption and nepotism given its past track record in other state-owned enterprises and agencies. Beside possible corruption, the frequent cash injections needed to pay creditors and employees’ salaries as PSM is cash-strapped would be required by the Sindh government , as currently this is being done by the federal government, would serve as another financial burden on the people of Sindh, especially Karachi being the major tax collecting base for the province.  It has been reported in the media that US$ 290 million (Rs. 29 billion) in capital expenditure is needed for repairs to take the production to the current stated capacity of 1.1 million tonnes per annum, while another US$ 596million (Rs. 59.6 billion) would be required to enhance the capacity to 3 million tonnes per annum.

PTI Karachi Organizer further mentioned, “If the Sindh government is serious in acquiring PSM, the entire transaction should be made transparent and the people of Sindh should know what is and isn’t included in the purchase price when it comes to assets and liabilities and also how the purchase price was derived.  Furthermore, given that Pakistan Steel Mills is currently in the doldrums and assuming that the Sindh government wants to run it as a profitable business, then what is the revitalization plan?  It should be imperative on the Sindh government