The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production was held on Wednesday.
Chaired by Senator Ahmed Khan, the meeting was attended by Senator Naseebullah Bazai, Senator Sitara Ayaz, Senator Kulsoom Perveen, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim, Senator Aurangzeb Khan, Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif and senior officers from the Ministry of Industries and Production, Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.
The agenda of the Committee entailed comprehensive briefing on the initiatives taken for the revival of the PSM and the establishment of the Industrial Zones across the country under CPEC.
The meeting commenced with the briefing on Steel Mills and initiatives for its revival. The Committee was informed that Pakistan Steel Mills was established in 1985 with the techno-financial assistance of ex-Soviet Union at the cost of PKR 24.7 billion. It earned an accumulated profit amounting to PKR 9.54 billion in 2007-08. However, after this, global recession took its toll. The Committee was informed that 2015 PSM was granted a 2.5 billion bailout package that led to 42% capacity utilization. During that period gas pressure was massively reduced by SSGC due to which production declined. PSB was put on the privatization list for a long while, however, now, on the directives of the Prime Minister it has been delisted. And an operational plan is being worked out.
Chairman Committee, Senator Ahmed Khan while evaluating the revival options presented by the Ministry, said that if a private party is successful in restructuring and reinstating this Industry, the question remains, what prevents the government in doing so.
Senator Kulsoom Parveen was of the view that two issues have contributed greatly towards the current state of the PSM; short supply of gas and high interest rate of loans that were procured to run it. She recommended that interest applied to the loan may be waived.
Senator Aurangzeb Khan stressed the need for strong action, so that PSM contributes to the country’s economy massively. He said that this was a priceless asset and must be utilized to its full potential. The Committee recommended that members visit the PSM site and review issues on ground. It was suggested that Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak and Senator Lt. Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum be especially invited to accompany members so that the Committee benefit from their expertise and experience.
While deliberating over Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC, the Committee took strict notice of issues that pertained to it and was of the view that under present conditions it was impossible that the common man benefit from it.
While reviewing projects to be launched in 2019, Senator Sitara Ayaz showed concern regarding the Rashakai Economic Zone, and said that ground-breaking was virtually impossible, since land acquisition had not been completed yet. The Committee showed displeasure regarding lack of incentives. Chairman Committee Senator Ahmed Khan gave directives for a sub-Committee be formed to review this matter in great details. He stressed the need for this project to reap maximum benefits for those at the bottom of the pyramid.