ISLAMABAD     -     Overall losses and liabilities of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) have surged to Rs510 billion as the government has failed to revive the country’s largest industrial unit.

The Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production was informed that losses and liabilities of PSM had increased by Rs40 billion in last 14 months, taking overall losses to Rs510 billion. The ministry of industries and production has informed the committee that government is working on revival plan for the PSM by adopting model of public-private partnership (PPP). Under the proposed PPP, the government would give some shares and management of the PSM to a private investor to revive the Mill, which is dysfunctional since July 2015.

The committee was informed that federal government is providing salaries to the workers and officials of the PSM from last few months. Special secretary ministry of finance told the meeting that ministry keeps giving funds to PSM in heads of salaries and other expenditures. The ministry of finance would help PSM in getting approval of the proposal to liquidating funds and diverting them for payment to retired employees. He said that it will also provide gradual support with supplementary grants over a period of 3-4 years. The members of the Committee, however, called for a rigorous solution to the problem with early payments.

Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production was further told that the total liabilities in terms of pension and gratuity of retired employees amount to Rs15.8 billion. However, around Rs238 million has been received recently from the National Industrial Park. Meanwhile, there is a proposal to sale some steel slabs of worth around Rs5 billion is under consideration.

It was also told that this liquidation of asset will take around 12-18 months. The committee was of the view that the payment of Rs5 billion should be made as early as possible so that 33 percent of the total liability is paid and sufferers get some relief. The committee has also asked PSM, Finance and affected parties to sit together and work on a viable and workable solution to address the matter.

Dr Sania Nishtar told the Committee that BISP currently has its network with 5.2 million women who are paid every quarter of a year a sum of 5000 rupees. She said that different households have different expenditure requirements and fixing grocery purchases through BISP is not viable.

She also explained that after a working of around 10 months BISP has adopted a work plan that involves payments through banks and after adopting this framework it is difficult to backtrack and do it with the Utility Stores Corporation now. Members of the Committee, however, were of the view that the mechanism can be revised. The Committee also discussed the issues of tax and subsidy in relation to the corporation.

 The Committee after hearing FBR and Utility Stores recommended giving subsidy to the corporation on items basic necessity and also exemption from the 1.5 turn over tax currently in place.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Ahmed Khan here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senators Aurangzeb Khan, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Hafiz Abdul Karim, Kalsoom Parveen, Asif Kirmani, Advisor on Industries and Production Abdur Razzak Dawood, Adviser on Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar, Chairman Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Aamir Mumtaz, Secretary Industries and Production Aamir Khwaja, Special Secretary Finance Qamar Hamid Khan, Secretary Poverty Alleviation Shaista Sohail, Member FBR Abdul Hameed Memon, DG PPRA Muhammad Zubair, and officials from government departments.