ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production Tuesday recommended resolving the issues of salaries, gratuity and provident fund in Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production meeting was chaired by Senator Hidayatullah in Parliament House here. Chairman Committee Senator Hidayatullah said that Ministry of Privatisation has no concern for paying net salaries to PSM employees.

The Committee was informed that amount of Rs47 billion was required for paying all arrears to PSM employees and the government was paying Rs 270 million for salaries to PSM employees in every month.

Secretary Privatization Commission Irfan Ali said privatization was prime economic tool for enhancing the capacity of institutions. In the meeting, Senator Taj Haider stressed the need to increase the industrial base instead of privatising the country’s institutions for providing employment opportunities in the country.

Meanwhile, briefing the committee, senior official of Utility Stores Corporation (USC) informed that 11 employees of USC were under trial in different cases including 6 officers and 5 other employees. He informed the committee that currently the corporation was facing loss of Rs 17 million daily and as many as 4,477 stores were running in loss. He said main reason behind such a huge loss was over burden of employees as around 480 employees were in surplus. Chairman Committee urged the USC to evolve system for maintaining quality control and transparency in the institution.

Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production was also informed that the development portfolio of ministry of industries and production is worth Rs10.722 billion and an amount of Rs2737.27 million is allocated for 13 ongoing/new projects for fiscal year 2017-18.

During the briefing on bi-annual budget allocation for 2017-18 and its utilisation, official said demand wise Budget Grant 2017-18 for capital outlay on industrial development is Rs2737.270 million but actual release by Finance Division is Rs293.230.

He said budget utilization up to 31-12-2017 is Rs234.750 million. Output wise budget grant 2017-18 for core strategic areas of ministry is Rs2737.270 and budget utilisation 2017-18 up to 31-12-2017 is Rs234.750 million.

The committee was briefed by National Fertilizer Corporation of Pakistan on its overall working/performance and details of appointments made during last ten years.

Marketing operation of NFML is carried out through countrywide network of dealers. It owns 6 bulk warehouses throughout the country. Company sold imported urea during 2015-16 worth Rs 144,265 million tons, in 2016-17 117,051 million tons and in 2017-18 (Jul-Dec) 158,988 million tons.

At present, NFML has dealers' network of 2150 dealers all over the country to deliver the imported urea to the farmers at their doorsteps. The committee directed the concerned officials of NFCP to provide details of urea rates applicable in FATA and to check whether same rates are applicable across the country.

According to official data, urea and DAP are major fertilisers used by the farming community. Urea is locally manufactured whereas 60% of DAP requirement is met by imports by the private sector.

In case of urea, an increase in price has been noticed but that increase is within the level allowed by the government, which is Rs1400 per bag. In case of DAP, increase has been observed because of price hike in the international market from $370 per ton of last year to $409 per ton on 01-01-2018. Dollar exchange rate has also risen from Rs105.204 on 01-12-2017 to Rs110.91 on 18-01-2018, constituting an increase of 5.10%. The local prices of DAP have risen from Rs2752 per bag in December, 2017 to Rs2894 per bag in January, 2018.

Senator Taj Haider, Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Malik Najmul Haq, Kalsoom Perveen, Khanzada Khan and senior official of Ministry of Industries and Production attended the meeting.