Give heed to PSM potential

UNCERTAIN future of PSM Pakistan Steel Mills remains in the limelight but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons and there are no plans in sight to set this national institution right. Latest media reports suggest that its administration sold products at almost half the market price inflicting losses worth over 08 billion to the Mills during the last two years. Pakistan Steel is also unable to clear Rs 900 million bill of Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd and as a consequence its gas connection remains suspended for the last seven months.
Establishment of Pakistan Steel Mills in 1973 was widely hailed as it laid foundations for economic growth, which was not possible without a self-sufficient iron and steel making plant. The PSM saw periods of ups and downs but mostly it remained profitable despite political upheavals, gross interference in its working and mismanagement. This is borne out by the fact that it has paid back Rs 108 billion in taxes/duties against Rs 24 billion initially spent on its establishment and has the gargantuan infrastructure know-how and potential to produce 3 to 5 million tonnes of steel to meet Pakistan’s requirement for next two decades. However, despite its promising future, the country’s largest industry is being allowed to sink by the authorities concerned. The Pak Steel Mills is seeking bailout package of about Rs 25 billion but the Government is reluctant beyond releasing some amount after two or three months to pay salaries to the staff. This state of affairs is unacceptable especially when expert opinion suggests the PSM can be restored as a profit-making entity because of huge demand for steel products provided it is allowed to run purely on commercial lines and considerations. In the first place, the government should help the organization get rid of thousands of ghost or non-productive employees who are there just to receive salaries. This should be followed by all-encompassing reforms including steps to eliminate corruption and misuse of powers by some officials, who have caused huge losses to the institution.

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