NAB must identify, put on trial, all responsible for Steel Mill’s downfall

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 02:05 PM, 11 Jun, 2020
NAB must identify, put on trial, all responsible for Steel Mill’s downfall

Pakistan Steel Mills, Karachi, has at present an accumulative debt of Rs270 billion and, according to a Senator’s recent report, needs another Rs130 billion if it has to be revived.

This means the nation will have to bear a loss of whopping Rs400 billion to resuscitate this ‘white elephant’ back to life.

On the other hand, the federal cabinet, in line with the Economic Coordination Committee’s recommendation, has just decided to privatize what was once among the biggest projects and was the pride of the Islamic republic.

Some observers are of the opinion that the privatization decision is questionable. Rs400 billion is not a small amount to spare. It’s a case deserving thorough investigation by the National Accountability Bureau. The NAB, through a suo motu action, should identify the characters responsible for bringing this huge industrial unit to a grinding halt, despite all bailout packages. It is because of their failure that a great national asset has been turned into a huge liability.

The chairmen and other high-ups of the past years who have been receiving fat salaries and allowances despite their failure to keep the PSM functional should be identified, put on trial and awarded exemplary punishment in the shortest possible time.

Such a step will send a strong message to the stiff-necked bureaucrats, especially the sluggish ones, and they will have to deliver.

It’s unfortunate that our bureaucrats want to occupy the highest posts with the highest salaries - and don’t like to be questioned about their performance. It is because of this irrational approach that most of the institutions are going down and down with the passage of time but their heads are enjoying comfortable lives, with no fear of accountability.

To meet the ends of justice, all chairmen who failed to improve the PSM’s performance in their respective tenures should be proceeded against under the relevant laws.

If the NAB can institute cases against politicians, it should also not spare bureaucrats.

The failure of a project worth billions of rupees will be a national loss. Anybody who played any role in it, big or small, should not be spared.

The matter should not be brushed under the carpet. The nation must know what went wrong with this project.

Privatization of PSM is not the solution, nor is the Sindh government’s demand prudent that the mills’ 9,000 plus employees be not laid off. To continue to inject billions of rupees whether by the Centre or the Sindh government is like wasting national resources. Before going for privatization or taking other steps needed to revive the dead project, the government should proceed against those responsible for this state of affairs.

The PPP, the party in power in Sindh, has warned that it will resist the move to privatize the PSM. It wants the revival of the project at any cost and has made it clear that it will stand by the workers in all situations.

Sindh minister Saeed Ghani indicated that the PPP would also try to win the support of the MQM-P and the GDA, major opposition parties of the province, in resisting the privatization plan.

This, apparently, means that the privatization of this gigantic project would not be an easy task.

Categories : Opinion