Pakistan to invite Chinese assistance for revival of steel mills

A security guard sits in front of a wall with signs and slogans at the operation building at the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) on the outskirts of Karachi Feb 8, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 08 October 2019

Pakistan to invite Chinese assistance for revival of steel mills

  • PM Khan likely to discuss the plan with Chinese authorities during his current visit
  • Experts believe the mill may take three to four years to become operational again

KARACHI: As Pakistan seeks Chinese assistance to revive the loss-making mega-corporation, Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), officials and stakeholders believe it could take three to four years to bring its non-operational plants back to life.
Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Beijing on Monday to discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and regional security issues with the Chinese leadership.
He is also expected to request Chinese authorities to help revive the steel mill that has remained nonfunctional since 2015 and bleeding Pakistan financially.
“Two months ago, our committee was briefed about the status of PSM and its revival plan. We were informed that some Russian and Chinese companies along with local groups were interested in bringing it back to life,” Sajid Hussain Turi, Chairman of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production, told Arab News on Monday. “The revival of Pakistan Steel Mills will be a welcoming step.”
The stakeholders expect the Chinese companies to bring enough expertise to revive the steel mills. “The Chinese showed a keen interest in rejuvenating the place in a meeting held a couple of months back with PSM board of directors,” Munir K. Bana, the board’s top official, told Arab News
Pakistan Steel Mills was constructed in 1973 under an agreement signed between the country’s administration and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) in 1971. The Soviets also agreed to provide technical and financial assistance for the construction work.
The megacorporation saw a decline in production between 2008 and 2015. It was finally shut down when the company failed to pay Rs20 billion of the gas bill.
“So far the accumulated losses of the steel mills have increased to about $11 billion due to the closure of plants and imports of steel products,” said Mumrez Khan, convener of PSM Stakeholders’ Group that comprises employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers, and contractors.
The country has been exploring various options to resolve the issue of Pakistan Steel Mills, including its privatization.
Recently a decision to put PSM on the privatization list was taken up in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet that was chaired by prime minister’s adviser on finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. However, it was later decided to revive the defunct entity, instead of privatizing it.
“The daily losses are estimated to be around Rs120 million due to the closure of plants,” Khan claimed. “About Rs80 billion of PSM Stakeholders’ Group are also with the mill. Our three-month salaries remain pending as well.”
Officials expect that the revival of the defunct steel mills would take about three to four years and billions of rupees since its plants desperately need replacement of machinery and equipment.
“In my personal view, the machinery will have to be replaced completely since it is beyond repair at this stage,” Bana commented.
Spread over an area of 18,600 acres with 10,390 acres for the main plant, Pakistan Steel Mills is located 40 kilometers from Karachi in the Port Qasim vicinity. The PSM had a production capacity of 1.1 million tons of steel which was expandable to 3 million tons per annum. The main PSM products included coke, pig iron, billets, cold-rolled sheets, hot-rolled sheets, and galvanized sheets.

Pakistan confirms some of its nationals involved in deadly accident near Madinah

Updated 6 min 27 sec ago

Pakistan confirms some of its nationals involved in deadly accident near Madinah

  • The crash took place when a privately chartered bus carrying 39 pilgrims collided with a loader
  • Reports indicate only four bus passengers survived the tragedy, some in critical condition

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday expressed profound grief and sorrow over the tragic road accident that claimed the lives of 35 pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

According to media reports, the accident happened when a privately chartered bus carrying 39 passengers collided with a loader near Madinah at about 7pm on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s foreign office confirmed in a press statement that “the deceased also include a certain number of Pakistani nationals.”

“Of the four survivors,” the handout continued, “there is one Pakistani named Mr. Akbar, who is seriously injured. The Pakistan Consulate General in Jeddah has established contact with him and is in touch with the concerned Saudi authorities and staff of the King Fahad Hospital, Madinah, to ascertain details of casualties of Pakistani nationals.”

Reacting to the development, the foreign minister said his ministry was in touch with the Saudi authorities to ascertain the causes of the accident.

“Our diplomatic mission is in contact with the Saudi authorities to ensure that the injured get the best medical facilities and the bodies of the deceased are smoothly flown back to Pakistan,” Qureshi added.