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12 Chinese, Russians firms interested in Pakistan Steel Mills’ privatisation: Azhar

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ISLAMABAD: At least 12 Chinese and Russians firms have expressed an interest in the privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar told respective Senate committee on Wednesday. In his briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production, Azhar noted that about 4,000 PSM employees were made permanent in 2010 and the industrial unit went into a loss.
Noting that the facility’s deficit is more than Rs225 billion at present, he said the PSM would be run as a public-private venture (PPV). “We need to take tough decisions if these [public] institutions are to reerected,” he added, noting that running such state-owned companies required going beyond politicking.

The federal minister underlined that the Supreme Court has already sought a plan regarding the PSM. “Six of the 12 international companies that have expressed interest in the privatisation of the PSM have toured the facility and three are serious about purchasing it. “These companies are from China and Russia,” Azhar mentioned, adding that the Mills could only be bought by an international company since local investors do not have the capability to do so. “An investment of more than $1 billion is required to run the PSM,” he told the Senate committee.

“It’s not like we will leave the PSM employees helpless,” he stressed, noting that the cases of approximately 500-600 employees of the PSM were currently being heard in the courts. The minister stated that Pakistan’s total steel consumption is seven million tonnes and the country currently produces seven million tonnes. Pakistan currently imports all raw materials for making steel products, he added. He further explained that the public institutions’ payables equalled Rs1.5-2 trillion, “exceeding our annual defence budget”.

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