NA body recommends referring Steel Mills case to NAB

ISLAMABAD –  A parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended the government to refer the Pakistan Steel Mills case to the National Accountability Bureau regarding the determination and punishment of the people responsible for destabilisation of the PSM.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation, which was met in the chair of Syed Imran Ahmed Shah, discussed the privatisation of public sector entities. Secretary Privatisation Commission Irfan Ali informed the committee that the PSM was closed more than two and half years ago after the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) cut the gas supplies due to non-payment of over Rs44 billion dues. Similarly, the National Bank of Pakistan also seeks recovery of Rs55 billion loans advanced to the mills. The employees have also not been paid their salaries for the past few months.

He further informed the federal government is paying billions of rupees to the workers of PSM as salaries every year. The government would have to pay Rs15 billion as pension to 3,500 retired workers of the PSM. The PSM had to pay Rs99 billion to the National Bank of Pakistan and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited, he added. He clarified that government is not selling land of the PSM.

The committee directed the government to refer the PSM case to NAB regarding the determination and punishment of the responsible persons of fiscal deficit and destabilisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills, Karachi, immediately.

The Secretary Privatisation Commission briefed the Committee about the pending cases in the court and outstanding amounts regarding privatisation of the government entities. He informed that the government had not received the full amount for privatising 14 entities as most of the cases are in the courts. He said that Etisalat had to pay $800 million against the privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). A delegation of Etisalat is currently in Pakistan for negotiations to resolve the issue. The government of Pakistan had not transferred 33 properties of the PTCL to Etisalat. He hoped that both the sides would resolve the issue in current negotiations.

Irfan informed the committee that the government wants to privatise the Pakistan International Airlines but it would have to make amendment in the PIA’s act. The federal government would soon present a summary in the federal cabinet in this regard.

He also briefed the legal, financial and technical aspects of Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) regarding PTCL’s privatisation and transparency of this project. He also briefed about the efforts regarding recovery of outstanding amounts by the concern defaulter companies.

The committee recommended that the ministry shall respond to the question asked by the lawmakers in its next meeting. The committee also recommended that the comprehensive briefing shall be presented regarding the PTCL’s Privatisation by the ministry in its next meeting.

 The committee also recommended the matter regarding the recovery of outstanding amounts shall be referred to the NAB against the defaulter companies.     

Those who attended the meeting are MNAs Justice (Retd) Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema, Shaheen Shafiq, Maiza Hameed, Munaza Hassan, Dr Imran Khattak, Abdul Waseem, Engineer Mohammad Usman Badini, and parliamentary secretary for privatisation. The senior officers from the Ministry of Privatisation also attended the meeting.

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