The Minister for Privatization Mian Muhammad Soomro has said that six parties, including two Chinese and two Russian, are interested in purchasing the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
He revealed this on Thursday while briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Privatization (NASCP).
“The PSM has been closed since 2015, and exchequer bears the burden of Rs. 400 million every month for salaries,” the minister informed the committee.
He said the government is going to appoint a consultant who will evaluate if the reinstatement of PSM was possible.
Pakistan International Airline (PIA) was going through a similar situation due to the shortage of airplanes, he said, addeding that “If PIA gets airplanes, its losses can be reduced.”
The chairman of the NASCP Mustafa Mehmood was more interested in the idea of PIA’s privatization than PSM.
“If privatization has to be done, it should be PIA first,” said Mehmood, adding that making PIA profitable again was impossible. The meeting also discussed the privatization of SME Bank.
One of the committee members Mukhtar Ahmed, criticized previous governments by saying that SME was a profit-making entity, which was destroyed for personal gains.
Since 2006, the Privatisation Commission has kept the SME Bank in limbo.
The minister said that the SME Bank was in profit until after 2008. Its fall started when the PPP came into power. The committee was informed that the bank’s dues in 2014 amounted to Rs. 14 billion which have now reduced to Rs. 11 billion.
The privatization secretary said the SME Bank would be presented for privatization within a few months.