Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production in its meeting was told that the total liabilities in terms of pension and gratuity of retired employees amount to 15.8 billion for which 238 million have been received recently from the National Industrial Park and proposal to sale some steel slabs of worth around 5 billion is under consideration. It was also told that this liquidation of asset will take around 12-18 months. The Committee was of the view that the payment of 5 billion should be made as early as possible so that 33% of the total liability is paid and sufferers get some relief.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Ahmed Khan here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senators Aurangzeb Khan, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Hafiz Abdul Karim, Kalsoom Parveen, Asif Kirmani, Advisor on Industries and Production Abdur Razzak Dawood, Adviser on Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar, Chairman Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Aamir Mumtaz, Secretary Industries and Production Aamir Khwaja, Special Secretary Finance Qamar Hamid Khan, Secretary Poverty Alleviation Shaista Sohail, Member FBR Abdul Hameed Memon, DG PPRA Muhammad Zubair, and officials from government departments.
Special Secretary Finance told the meeting that Finance keeps giving funds to PSM in heads of salaries etc and will help PSM in getting approval of the proposal to liquidating funds and diverting them for payment to retired employees. He said that it will also provide gradual support with supplementary grants over a period of 3-4 years. The members of the Committee, however, called for a rigorous solution to the problem with early payments. The Committee asked PSM, Finance and affected parties to sit together and work on a viable and workable solution to address the matter.
While discussing the revival plan of the non-functional units of PSM the Committee was told that it will be a model of public private partnership with giving some shares and management to a private investor. The process will take 2-3 in getting finalised. PSM currently stands at a deficit of 510 billion with 40 billion in just the last 14 months.
Regarding the proposal of rerouting BISP purchases through Utility Stores Corporation Dr. Sania Nishtar told the Committee that BISP currently has its network with 5.2 million women who are paid every quarter of a year a sum of 5000 rupees. She said that different households have different expenditure requirements and fixing grocery purchases through BISP is not viable. She also explained that after a working of around 10 months BISP has adopted a work plan that involves payments through banks and after adopting this framework it is difficult to backtrack and do it with the Utility Stores Corporation now. Members of the Committee, however, were of the view that the mechanism can be revised.
The Committee also discussed the issues of tax and subsidy in relation to the corporation. The Committee after hearing FBR and Utility Stores recommended giving subsidy to the corporation on items basic necessity and also exemption from the 1.5 turn over tax currently in place.