ISLAMABAD : Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar has said that 15 parties have shown their interest in Pakistan Steel Mills and the government has decided to privatise it in order to revive and steer it out of losses. Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, Hammad Azhar said that only the core Steel Mills operation will be privatized and not the other land of the entity. He said that employees of Pakistan Steel Mills will be relieved in two phases with payment of their retirement dues and one month salary. He termed political point-scoring over the PSM privatisation unfortunate. “The Pakistan Steel Mills is a huge burden on taxpayers,” he said, adding salaries amounting to Rs55 billion were paid to around 9,000 employees of the non-operational mill. The minister said Rs90 billion bailout package was given to the mill in the past in an effort to revive it but to no avail. He added the federal government has been doling out Rs700 million every month to pay salaries and interest as the debt of the Steel Mills has ballooned to Rs230 billion. Earlier, on June 3, the government approved retrenchment of all the 9,350 employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. “The meeting gave a go-ahead to a ‘full and final’ human resource rationalisation plan for the PSM employees in accordance with the judgements and observations of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and other courts hearing the cases involving the PSM,” said an official announcement.
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