ISLAMABAD: Six parties, including two Russian and as many Chinese, have shown interest in purchasing the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), the privatisation minister says.
“The PSM has been closed since 2015, while Rs400 million is being spent on monthly salaries,” said Mian Muhammad Soomro during a conference of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation on Thursday.
“A consultant is being appointed for PSM, who will evaluate whether the steel mills can be reinstated or not,” said Soomro, adding that similar was the case of the Pakistan International Airlines as it had no airplanes.
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“If PIA gets airplanes, its losses can be reduced,” he added.
NA Standing Committee on Privatisation Chairman Mustafa Mehmood said he was in favour of privatisation.
“If privatisation has to be done, PIA must be privatised first,” said Mehmood. “Making PIA profitable again is impossible.”
The committee members reviewed the privatisation process of SME Bank.
The federal minister said, “The Privatisation Commission does not decide about the privatisation of an institution. Only those institutions, whose names are forwarded to the commission, are privatised.”
Committee member Mukhtar Ahmed said the SME Bank was a profit-making entity, which was destroyed deliberately. “Since 2006, the Privatisation Commission has kept the SME Bank in limbo.”
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The privatisation secretary apprised the committee that the SME Bank would be presented for privatisation in two-three months, adding that the SME Bank was making profit till 2008, but now it was running in losses.
The secretary said placing an uncertain situation in the institution affected its performance. “We will put the whole picture of the bank in front of the buyer within two-three months.”
The secretary said in 2014, dues of the SME Bank were Rs4 billion which had now reached Rs11 billion.
“Privatisation of this bank is the utmost priority on which work is ongoing,” the secretary said. “The government can benefit only in terms of licence with the privatisation of this institution.”