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Inquiry into Pakistan Steel Mills closure dropped - NAB

Steel News - Published on Tue, 11 Dec 2018

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Dawn reported that Pakistan National Accountability Bureau has closed an investigation into the curtailment of natural gas supply to Pakistan Steel Mills that led to closure of the country’s largest industrial unit in June 2015. The inquiry was ordered on a reference moved in December last year by then chairman of the National Assembly’s standing committee on industries and production Asad Umar, who is currently holding the portfolio of finance.

The reference sought investigation into why the gas supply was cut to the mill, forcing it to shut down, or no intervention was made by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government when both the PSM and the gas utility, Sui Southern Gas Company, were owned by the government.

A recent NAB letter to the PSM, explaining that the “No incriminating evidence necessitating further inquiry was available, hence the matter merits closure. Executive board [of NAB] observed that all allegations were examined during inquiry. However, no aspect of criminality was found. On the recommendations of the executive board, the chairman [of NAB] approved the closure of inquiry.”

This comes at a time the ministry of industries and production ordered the PSM to call an urgent meeting of its board of directors to approve ‘consultation as well as data sharing with Hub Power Company (Hubco) for a revival plan.

The PSM board’s chairman has been writing to the ministries of industries and finance for the past couple of months to fill the positions of chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO), which have been vacant since May 2016 and June 2013, respectively.

Mr Umar wrote in his letter to the NAB chairman that the mill closure was incurring a loss of PKR 1.4 billion every month, resulting in loss of precious foreign exchange due to import of steel. He said the NA panel had decided to send the reference to NAB in July last year, but the communication was delayed by bureaucratic means, compounding the suspicion of collusion in the shutdown of a national asset.

The reference put on record that salaries to employees were being paid with a lag of several months and retirement benefits were overdue for several years with reports of the employees committing suicides.

The study concluded, on the basis of field surveys, extensive data and in-depth discussions, that the PSM had a high starting point, complete process chain and the advantages of resource acquisition and regional market. Being situated near the largest city with over 20million population and close to the 50,000-tonne bulk cargo wharf relying on raw material and fuels import, the PSM owned rare logistic cost advantages, it stated. With the expansion of production capacity in future, its harbour could also be used to ship products to the rest of the market.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Tue, 11 Dec 2018
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