ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government has started working on the revival plan of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), which has been non-functional since June 2015.
This was revealed by the secretary of the Ministry of Industries and Production while briefing the Senate Standing Committee, which met with Senator Khalida Ateeb in the chair, here on Friday.
Caretaker Federal Minister for Privatisation, Fawad Hassan Fawad, has sought a presentation on the revival plan of PSM, said the secretary, adding that the government is going towards its revival.
However, the committee was surprised by the secretary’s statement, saying that earlier they had been told that there was no gas, while the number of employees slashed from around 25,000 to around 3,000.
Further, there has been no CEO of the PSM since August 2022 while there is no Board of Directors. The committee asked for sharing the revival plan of the PSM once finalised.
The chief financial officer (CFO) of the PSM provided a detailed breakdown of operational expenditures, explaining that operations at the Steel Mill ceased in 2015, with no production occurring since then.
He said that the corporation operated at zero production capacity during 2021-22 due to which fixed costs cannot be absorbed. During the fiscal year 2021-22, the PSM earned a profit of Rs7.149 billion mainly due to the revaluation of “Investment Property”. A surplus of Rs27.647 billion was recorded due to revaluation.
However, the position of profit/(loss), gross and after tax for the last five financial years are as; gross losses were Rs6.058 billion in 2021-22, Rs7.293 billion in 2020-21, Rs5.803 billion in 2019-20, Rs5.249 billion in 2018-19, and Rs7.469 billion in 2017-18.
The committee was informed that it had a profit of Rs7.149 billion in 2021-22, however, losses were Rs18.748 billion in 2020-21, Rs20.505 billion in 2019-20, Rs16.550 billion in 2018-19, and Rs5.948 billion in 2017-18.
The meeting deliberated upon the availability and pricing of sugar within the country. Senator Zeeshan Khanzada raised concerns about the decision-making process for sugar exports, emphasizing the need for a robust system to assess projected sugar demand.
He noted that they often find themselves exporting sugar and subsequently, importing it when shortages arise. The secretary of the ministry explained that the Sugar Advisory Board has recently been placed under the ministry’s purview, and a detailed presentation regarding this matter will be provided to the committee.
Another agenda was the starred question asked by Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi concerning the current list of nonfunctional state-owned enterprises in the country. The CEO of the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) gave a presentation, revealing that there are currently, eight nonfunctional state-owned enterprises, most of which are in a state of stagnation and awaiting either liquidation or privatisation. Some of these enterprises face delays due to pending litigation in the courts. The committee’s chairperson directed ministry officials to assess all pending litigations and engage with the appropriate authorities to expedite dispute resolution.
The committee also discussed another starred question from Senator Mehdi, related to the number of utility stores across the country, categorised by province and location.
The director-general of Utility Stores Corporation informed the committee that there are a total of 4,999 stores in the country, with 2,852 in Punjab, 1,189 in KPK, 542 in Sindh, 252 in Balochistan, 84 in AJK, and 80 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
A detailed presentation was provided regarding the digitisation of Utility Stores nationwide. Officials emphasized that all stores in the country have been digitised and integrated with the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). This linkage with BISP enables USC to implement targeted subsidies across the country, ensuring transparency and monitoring through a centralised system.
This automation has resulted in savings of approximately three billion rupees. Committee members commended the efforts of the Utility Stores Corporation in digitizing the system. Senator Mehdi also raised concerns about reports of Utility Store products being sold in the market in one district of Sindh. Officials committed to providing a detailed report on the incident and the actions taken during the next committee meeting.
The committee meeting was attended by senators, Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Zeeshan Khanzada, Fida Muhammad, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Samina Mumtaz Zehri, Atta ur Rehman, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, and Syed Waqar Mehdi, along with the CEO of PIDC, officials from the USC, and the secretary of the Ministry of Industries and Production.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023