ISLAMABAD: Terming political point-scoring over the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) privatisation unfortunate, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said on Thursday the government decided to privatise the national entity to bring it out of losses.
“The Pakistan Steel Mills is a huge burden on taxpayers,” he told a press conference. He said salaries amounting to Rs55 billion were paid to around 9,000 employees of the non-operational mill.
The minister said a Rs90 billion bailout package was given to the mill in the past in an effort to revive it but to no avail. He added the federal government has been doling out Rs700 million every month to pay salaries and interest as the debt of the Steel Mills has ballooned to Rs230 billion.
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Hammad Azhar disclosed fifteen parties have evinced interest in purchasing stakes in the PSM. He cleared that only the core Steel Mills operation will be privatised and not the land of the entity.
He said the employees of the Steel Mills will be relieved in two phases with payment of their retirement dues and one month salary.
Earlier, on June 3, the government approved retrenchment of all the 9,350 employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
“The meeting gave a go-ahead to a ‘full and final’ human resource rationalisation plan for the PSM employees in accordance with the judgements and observations of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and other courts hearing the cases involving the PSM,” said an official announcement.