A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production was convened at the Parliament House in Islamabad, with Senator Khalida Ateeb presiding as the Chair. The committee members expressed displeasure about the absence of the Minister for Industries and Production in the committee and urged the officials to ensure the minister's presence, as it would help clarify the way forward.
During the session, the Senate Committee discussed the current status of the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills. Jawad Paul, Secretary of the Privatisation Division, briefed the committee members on the progress. He informed them that Pakistan Steel Mills was included in the Privatisation list on June 17, 2019. Initially, four Chinese companies expressed interest in the bidding process. However, due to the global decline in steel demand and adverse economic conditions, three of these companies withdrew their interest. Consequently, in a meeting held on October 6, 2023, the Privatisation Commission Board decided to halt the privatization process. This decision was made because having only one bidder raised concerns about transparency. Furthermore, a Technical Due Diligence report indicated that an investment of approximately US $584 billion would be necessary to restore the Steel Mills Plant to its original capacity of 1.1 million metric tons per annum. The matter has now been submitted to the Federal Cabinet for a final decision. Officials from Pakistan Steel Mills informed the committee that the organization generates Rs. 5 billion in revenue from sales but suffers a loss of Rs. 12.8 million due to scrap theft. Additionally, the company incurs an annual loss of around 30 billion rupees.
The Committee expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of implementation of its recommendations. Despite employing over 500 security personnel, scrap theft at PSM has not diminished. The Committee directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to present their plans for the future of PSM at the next meeting.
In discussing the role and functions of the Sugar Advisory Board (SAB), officials informed the Committee that the Board comprises Ministers and Secretaries of Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Industries and Production, Chairman FBR, as well as Chairman and Zonal Chairpersons of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association and the Association of Farmers. Additionally, each Provincial Government is represented by one member. The officials highlighted that the primary role of the Sugar Advisory Board is to provide input on sugar demand, sugarcane production, and estimated prices of sugarcane and sugar in the country. Moreover, with assistance from the FBR, the SAB has implemented a track and trace system in every sugar mill. The Committee expressed satisfaction with the Sugar Advisory Board and expressed hope that the SAB would play a significant role in controlling sugar smuggling and stabilizing sugar prices in the country.
The meeting was attended by Senator Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Senator Fida Muhammad, and Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, along with senior officials from the Ministry of Industries and Production, Pakistan Steel Mill, and the Privatisation Division.