ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought complete details of the privatisation plan of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, hearing the case of employees’ promotion, noted that the management is responsible for the PSM’s downfall.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and Federal Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro appeared before the court.
During the course of hearing, the chief justice inquired from the ministers about the government’s plans with regard to PSM.
Muhammad Mian Soomro said the PSM’s assets were of worth $100 million. He said the bidding would take place in September or October, adding that privatisation process of PSM would complete only after a settlement between the mills’ management and employees.
Asad Umar said the ownership of PSM would remain with the government of Pakistan.
The chief justice observed that the plan of PSM privatisation had been canceled in the past.
Upon that the privatization minister asked: “Should we not privatise steel mills?” Justice Gulzar said they were not saying not to privatise but keep in mind the court’s decision.
The bench appointed senior advocate Rasheed A Rizvi as mediator to hold discussion with the PSM management and the employees, for the resolution of dispute between them.
The court ordered for the payment of arrears to the employees.
The chief justice expressed displeasure over the plight of PSM, pointing out the expenses of the PSM were increasing without any production. He said the money should be recovered from the PSM officers.
He said due to the failure of the secretary Privatisation Commission, the PSM was incurring expenses every day.
He asked the secretary: “why not this amount be recovered from you? Do you feel any pain of losing this money? Let a competent person come and you go home.”
The chief justice remarked all the industries have been destroyed, adding that the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Heavy Mechanical Complex, and the Karachi Shipyard remained non-functional.
“Ships are being manufactured in China and Turkey, while the Karachi Shipyard is shut,” he remarked.
He said while nothing is produced in these units money is still spent on them.
The CJP said all over the world steel mills are one of the top businesses, “but there is issue only with the PSM in Pakistan, it has not made a profit of a single penny.”
The secretary Ministry of Industries and Production knows nothing, the CJP said.
Justice Mazhar Naqvi remarked if a private steel mills runs profitably then what is the issue with the PSM? “Explain how the steel mills be run in profit,” he added.
Shahid Bajwa advocate, representing PSM, submitted that the PSM needed only 40 officers.
He said according to Chinese experts, $500 million was required to run the PSM.
The chief justice said no one has invested in the PTCL and K Electric, adding the government does not have enough money.
The case was adjourned for two weeks.
The chief justice, in the last hearing, observed that “no federal secretary is working in the country and their jobs have been reduced to writing letters, which is the job description of clerks.”
“It is not clear why the government has employed secretaries when they do not have any work to do?” he had questioned.
“The country has been ruined and governmental secretaries are afraid that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will catch them.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021