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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Thursday said the employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) would receive Rs2.3 million on average after the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) relieved them under golden handshake scheme.

Addressing a media conference, the minister said the government had decided to privatize PSM in order to revive and steer it out of losses.

He said 15 parties had shown their interest in the PSM.

He clarified that only the core Steel Mills operations would be privatized.

The government is going towards public-private partnership for restoration of the steel mill.

He said that the PSM issue had been ongoing for a decade, and its loan had now exceeded Rs230 billion.

The mills went into deficit in the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) tenure and was closed in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

"The federal government pays Rs70 million per month in terms of salaries, losses and interest of the mill whose future must be decided. Rs55 billion were paid in salaries in last five and half years. There is no fault of the workers in shutdown of the mill."

Hammad Azhar said that about 9,000 employees of the PSM would be relieved in two phases after payment of their retirement dues and one-month salary.

An amount of Rs20 billion will be spent on this package.

On an average, each employee will get 2.3 million rupees. He said that that proposal would now be forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

The minister expressed his dismay over political-point scoring by the opposition parties on the matter.

He reminded that it was in their regimes during which the PSM became a loss-making entity and was then shut.

He regretted that no effort was made by the previous governments to revive the organization, rather its loan surpassed the Rs200 billion mark.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020