ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Steel Mills suffered losses in excess of Rs26 billion by June 2009 followed by a loss of Rs13 billion by June 2010 and continued to bleed, Minister for Industries and Production Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani told the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The minister attributed losses to inadequate and inconsistent supplies of raw materials because of non-availability of funds that brought production down to 40 per cent.
To these comments many MNAs then objected to lavish spending, use of luxury cars, and over-employment within Pakistan Steel Mills that was already gasping for life.
“Why so much extravagance when Pakistan Steel Mills is suffering huge losses than any other industry in the country?” asked one of the members who also demanded steps taken to make it stand back on its feet.
“We are making efforts to lesson deficits, expand and renovate the steel industry to make it profitable,” said the minister who also cleared the air that the Steel Mills was not being privatised.
“The Supreme Court saved the PSM before when it was being sold at throwaway prices. The Steel Mills is the backbone of the country and will be made viable,” he told the house.
Just when the minister was done taking heat on losses incurred by Steel Mill, MNA Marvi Memon hit him with the pressing problem of sugar that she said was being sold in markets at three times higher prices.
“The government is trying its best to bring prices down. We have 700,000 tons of sufficient sugar available till December,” the minister responded indicating to flood the markets with increased supply for sugar.
Comparing sugar consumption patterns in India and Bangladesh with Pakistan, Mr Bijarani was firm and maintained, “Sugar is a luxury item and should not be wasted.”
Responding to allegations of manoeuvring prices with collectively with sugar cartels, Mr Bijarani said, “the idea is to flood the markets to counter sugar cartels. If sugar mills are still shut, provinces should ensure that they are operational again.”