LAHORE - The Pakistan Steel Mills former chairman Haq Nawaz Akhtar strongly opposing the government plan of privatization of the PSM, has suggested the authorities to float 25 per cent shares of the mills so that it can be operated through public-private partnership.

He was addressing the third Iron & Steel Conference, which was also attended and addressed by several steel industry related personalities from across the country here on Wednesday.  He said that the biggest concern for the national asset is immediate injection of a huge amount of money up to Rs12 billion to purchase raw material to be able to stand on its feet again.  “This can be done by constituting a revolving fund and govt should give sovereign guarantees for the import of raw material.” However, the government is finding it hard to pump money and is only releasing it in phases with no significant improvement in the situation, he added. He said that Pakistan Steel Mills is still manageable and those who are saying that it is a hopeless case do not know much about the industrial complex.

Haq Nawaz Akhtar, one of the longest serving PSM chairmen during 1981-1986 and who remained finance director from 1974-78, stressed that the mill should run at all cost, whether the government runs it under a private management or it is carefully privatised at certain terms.

He said that installed capacity of the mill is 1.1 million tons and it is capable of expanding production to three million tons. Because of poor planning, mismanagement and corruption, successive governments have never been able to run the mill even at its installed capacity. Addressing the conference, Provincial Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Chaudhary Muhammad Shafique said that resolving of energy crisis and strengthening of economy are priorities of Punjab government and an effective policy has been adopted for this purpose. The Minister said that steel sector has a major role in Pakistan’s economy. He said that government is well aware of the problems being faced by iron and steel sector and is endeavoring to overcome them both at federal and provincial levels. Chaudhary Muhammad Shafique said that no country can make progress without having a stable economy.

 He told that government is also taking measures for the development of steel engineering like other sectors.

Other speakers suggest that vested interests have always thrived at the expense of this national asset. They blame successive managements of the mill for being incompetent. They thought corruption was one of the few sins but what was more dangerous was criminal negligence and mismanagement, which drowned this vital industrial complex. Running at just 3% capacity, the mill is booking losses of at least Rs2 billion per month and it needs to run at 80 per cent capacity, which is impossible unless it buys raw material in huge quantities,” the speakers said.