Minister irked by roadblocks in PSM sell-off

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Privatization Mohammedmian Soomro on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over the delay in resolving issues related to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) privatisation.

In a weekly meeting, Soomro said the issues should be taken up with ministry of industries. Revival of PSMC would be a great boost for the economy, he said.

It was decided that the decision regarding the divestment of the shares of Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) will be finalised after the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP). The CCOP meeting that was scheduled on Wednesday was postponed.

The minister said all the matters relating to the line ministries be taken up on priority. It was emphasised that all transactions should be completed with the given legal framework.

The weekly meeting was apprised that the recent pandemic situation is affecting the investors’ interest and timely closure of the transactions.

The meeting discussed the progress so far made at the privatisation of public sector enterprises. The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation last year approved the sale of PSM’s core operating assets to the private sector.

The government booked around Rs45 billion in losses and Rs96 billion in liabilities related to the PSM from July 2018 to December 2020. Besides multibillion rupees plants, the PSM also owns 1,230 acres of land.

The government was weighing an option to rejuvenate the PSM under the public-private partnership mode in phases.

The purpose of the weekly meeting is to identify the bottlenecks in each transaction at every stage and there has been a considerable progress in 18 identified entities.

The meeting was told that National Power Parks Management Company, one of the major transactions which are scheduled to be completed during current fiscal year, is impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic situation is also hampering the visit from foreign investors interested in these entities. NPPMCL is the operator of 2,400 megawatts re-gasified liquified natural gas power plants.

The timeline for other transactions including SME Bank, First Women Bank Limited, Jinnah Convention Center, House Building Finance Corporation Limited, and Services International Hotel have also been extended further owing to the pandemic and resultant market conditions.

The meeting was told that matters regarding the transactions are taken up with line ministries and divisions, and most of the transactions have been at the advanced stages of completion.

The meeting was apprised about the status of various entities and issues.

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