Islamabad - Senate Standing Committee on Industries has sought prime minister’s help in reviving the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

Members of the committee, who assembled on Monday to discuss privatisation of the PSM and Pakistan Machine Tool Factory, concurred that shutting down the mega project was not the solution.

They observed the situation was grave, as not only the employees were suffering due to the non-payment of salaries, but the suspension was also causing huge losses to the national exchequer.

The PSM administration informed the committee that on June 15, 2015, Sui Southern Gas Company discontinued the natural gas supply, due to non payments.

It added it cautioned the Ministry of Finance that discontinuation of the supply would add to the problems. “But despite their repeated attempts the gas supply could not be restored,” officials from the PSM administration told the committee.

Privatisation Commission Head Muhammad Zubair said that privatisation of the mills would save the country further losses, and would be equally beneficial for the staff as well as the country.

He said Rs 18.5 billion bailout package was spent on the purchase of raw material, payment of the utility bills and salaries, adding, “The only objective is to improve conditions of the mills before its sale.” Senator Taj Haider said that the import mafia was behind the demise of PSM. He said due to interference by the mafia, the mill was out of production.

He added the government was not ready to provide production tariff, and that mill’s production could be revived to 3 million tonnes by determining the gas surcharges. Senator Attique Sheikh said that an impression was being created that the government was delaying the matter.

He asked the government to announce a time frame for the revival of the mills.

Sheikh demanded that those responsible should be held accountable, and a committee should be constituted to revitalise the mega project. Secretary Industries and Production said that the matter should be referred to FIA.

PSM chairman said that in 2008, PSM suffered a loss of Rs 26 billion, but the government released only Rs 10 billion to the mills against the requested Rs 20 billion. He lamented that since then the mills could not be pulled out of the financial crunch.

Discussing the losses of Pakistan Machine Tool Factory, the committee was told that it had been in loss since 2002-03, and that the cabinet committee in 2013 decided to privatise it, but the Ministry of Defence Production opposed it.

The committee was informed that the factory employees had also not been paid like the employees of PSM.

Discussing steps taken by PSM against illegal structures in Gulshan Hadeed, the members were informed that 113 persons had built illegal structures, but the mill was powerless in front of them.

It was stressed that the government and Sindh Building Authority should take action.

The committee was further informed that all the plots had been allotted to their rightful owners, but due to incomplete development transfer of possession was still pending.

The total residential plots in the society are 1,104, while commercial plots in phase I-II are 133. In phase III, total number of residential plots is 3,210, while 176 are commercial.

Steel mill administration informed they have consulted courts against illegal construction in pahse-1 and 2 and has also requested NAB and FIA to probe the matter.