Friday June 21, 2024

Stakeholders demand overhaul of Pakistan Steel Mills decision-making body on efficiency concerns

By Israr Khan
May 04, 2024
A view of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). — Pakistan Steel Mills
A view of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). — Pakistan Steel Mills

ISLAMABAD: In a fervent plea to the federal government, stakeholders of the Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation (PSMC) are seeking an overhaul of the decision-making body overseeing the future of the ailing steel entity, citing concerns over the current committee's lack of expertise and efficiency.

The appeal, made by the PSMC Stakeholders’ Group on Thursday to the Ministry of Industries and Production (MOI&P), comes in response to the recent formation of a committee by the MOI&P aimed at developing a sustainable plan for the troubled steel mill.

Quoting a report from 'The News' dated April 28, 2024, stakeholders expressed serious reservations about the committee's composition. They cited concerns about the apparent deficiency in knowledge and experience among committee members in managing integrated steel plants or executing their revitalization.

They said that the mill could be made profitable with the right man for the right job, and the inclusion of technical people at the top level.They submitted to the government that PSM last posted a net profit of Rs7.149 billion in the financial year 2021-22. Earlier, in 2007-08, it made a profit of Rs9.5 billion.

Expressing dismay over the prolonged inefficiency in decision-making, the stakeholders highlighted the significant time lapse of over six months taken by the MOI&P to establish the committee. They pointed out a pattern of past failures by successive governments and the MOI&P in managing the affairs of PSM, which have transformed its once-profitable assets into financial liabilities.

Drawing attention to accountability lapses, the stakeholders referenced a Supreme Court directive dating back to May 16, 2012, which tasked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with investigating corruption cases related to PSM. However, they lamented a lack of transparency regarding the progress of these investigations over the past 12 years.

The stakeholders emphasized the dire financial situation of PSM, citing staggering debts exceeding Rs335 billion against assets valued at over Rs830 billion as of June 30, 2023. They raised concerns over the daily financial hemorrhaging of over Rs100 million attributed to delays in removing the present ad hoc management, allegedly involved in administrative and financial irregularities.

Highlighting their previous attempts to communicate concerns to relevant authorities, including federal ministers and secretaries, the stakeholders expressed frustration over the lack of response. They underscored the urgency of reconstituting a knowledgeable Board of Directors and appointing professional management to steer PSM away from further financial ruin.

In their appeal, the stakeholders outlined key areas of focus for PSM's revival, including leveraging local expertise, countering proposals for the sale of PSM land without addressing employee shareholding and debt settlements, and assisting authorities in recovering misappropriated funds.

The stakeholders extended an invitation to federal ministers and MOI&P officials to visit PSM and engage with employee representatives to gain firsthand insights into the challenges facing the steel mill. They emphasized the importance of informed decision-making in charting the future course of PSM and safeguarding the country's economic interests.

The appeal concluded with a plea for proactive measures from the MOI&P, the Special Investment Facilitation Committee, and the government at large, to salvage PSM from its current predicament and ensure accountability for those responsible for its decline.