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Islamabad: The Minister for Industries and Production (MoI&P), Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar is likely to visit Karachi this week to sort out different issues relating to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) with Port Qasim Authority (PQA), SSGC, KW&SB, KE and Government of Sindh including payment of retrenched employees, sources told Business Recorder.

The minister, sources said, made his plan to visit Karachi after a meeting with Secretary Industries and a legal counsel for PSM. Privatisation Commission (PC) has already invited Expression of Interest (LOI) from parties interested in acquiring shares of PSM.

Stakeholders Group, headed by Mumraz Khan has also written a letter to the Minister and Secretary Industries and Production, seeking time to apprise them of the real issues being faced by the PSM and its employees. The Chairman PSM Board, Aamir Mumtaz, has already raised eyebrows on the PSM privatisation process by writing two letters. He also resigned from the Transaction Committee after hurling accusations that his views were being ignored. He has also questioned competence of officials dealing with the transaction.

The Stakeholders Group says that it was surprised to note that CEO, PSM was directed by Ministry of Industries & Production, on August 17, 2021, to continue to perform his functions till the position is filled either in the shape of extension or appointment of a new CEO without evaluation of his performance.

According to the Stakeholders Group, the performance of incumbent CEO has been negative during the year. He has created frustration and unrest amongst the serving and victimized employees. He forced employees to protest against the Government's non-transparent privatisation and illegal retrenchment without any direction from Supreme Court of Pakistan in C.A 327/2020, filed by PSM in May 2020.

Pakistan Steel Mills: Sell-off process hangs in balance

"We fail to understand the MOI&P's decision knowing that the appointment of CEO, PEO (A&P) and General Manager (GM) Security was challenged in High Court of Sindh by General Secretary Peoples Workers Union and is pending for adjudication. Extending the service contracts of those (without any fear of accountability) who allegedly submitted misleading information, incorrect financial data to government, and to courts is not a joke," said the letter.

It further stated that invitation by Privatization Commission of Expression of Interest and further course of action by MOI&P and CCoP are illegal, malafide, without the approval of CCI, NOC from Government of Sindh and confidence of the employees.

According to the stakeholders, the MOI&P has not investigated "factors leading to losses" from 2005-21 - 16 years - to justify the privatisation of the PSM. Government learnt no lessons from the previous failed attempts taken in haste to privatize the PSM, annulled by Supreme Court in its judgment of June 23, 2006. The review petition filed by PC was withdrawn in 2012-13 but the review petition of M/s Arif Habib Group is still pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

"We once again, request to consider our positive approach in resolving the pending issues through tripartite negotiations between Federal Government, Government of Sindh and stakeholders prior to issuance of any Letter of Comfort by Ministry of Finance to selected creditors," the Group said adding that a meeting would save the Government from repeating the PSM privatisation blunder which allegedly negatively cost the economy more than $ 12 billion and persons at fault for causing these losses remain unaccountable.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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