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ISLAMABAD: The Expression of Interest (EoI) for the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) will be invited by May 2022, subsequent to 99 percent privatisation process was completed, a parliamentary panel was apprised on Thursday.

Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation met here at the Parliament House. Senator Shamim Afridi chaired the meeting. Secretary Privatisation Division Hassan Nasir Jamy informed the committee that receivable of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) including late payment surcharge (LPS) against PSM stood at Rs70 billion, which was pending before the board of directors of the SSGC.

He said the deliberation was going on for the settlement of Rs70 billion with the board of the SSGC and the other stakeholders and the rest of procedure was completed.

The committee was also briefed on the privatisation of the Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC), the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC), the First Women Bank Limited, and the Pak-China Fertiliser Company.

The committee was also apprised that based on the completion date of audit, the PC will move further to publish EoI in the press and to pre-qualify the interested parties for the privatisation of First Women Bank Limited.

The interested parties will be given an opportunity for buyer side’s due diligence and subsequently, entity would be privatised through competitive bidding process, which is expected by the end of December 2022.

PC reviews sell-off status of PSM, other entities’

An official of the PC further said that the bank had Rs25 billion worth of deposit and Rs12 billion advances.

About delay in privatisation of the bank, the secretary explained that no board was constituted in three years. The new board was appointed on September 9, 2021 and the auditor has been tasked to conduct the audit for the financial year 2018. The appointment of the auditors for the financial year 2019, 2020, and 2021 is also being considered to conduct the audit on concurrent basis.

The composition of the board of directors of the HBFCL was furnished to the prime minister and the Cabinet for concurrence. Following the prime minister’s approval, the federal cabinet’s approval was obtained on December 28, 2021. Invitations for the EOI along with investment teaser advertised for potential investors with the deadline of January 31, 2022 for submission of the EOIs, and February 15, 2022 for submission of the SoQs.

The board of directors of the HBFCL will approve the audited accounts for December 2020 and June 2021 of the company, following which, the due diligence from the investor will be conducted to proceed with the bidding process. The committee was further informed the reference price for bidding for the HEC was considered by the PC Board in its meeting held on November 25, 2021.

The summary for the same will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) for approval before the bidding. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in its referred meeting of November 22, 2021, inter alia, directed the PC to ensure that the bidding for the privatisation of the HEC is held by mid-January 2022.

The second pre-bid conference was held on December 1, 2021, wherein, the issues resolved in view of previous pre-bid conference were briefed to the pre-qualified bidders besides the process of bidding was explained in detail. The Privatisation Commission (PC) is currently pursuing the case of Pak-China Fertilizer Company in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The latest outstanding amount of Rs2.8 billion has been conveyed to the court. The next date of hearing is fixed for January 13, 2022. Minister for Privatisation Muhammadmian Soomro said the delay in privatisation of loss-making entities were due to the delay in the constitution of board, finalisation of accounts and audit reports, delay in providing information by relevant ministry, and specific period for completion of each stage under the privatisation program in the Privatisation Ordinance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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