–Ghani calls argument of PSM hemorrhaging monies ‘drama’
–Claims PPP can not only revive it but also make it profitable
–Calls on MQM-P leaders in cabinet to raise voice against recent layoffs
KARACHI: Days after the federal government fired than 4,500 staffers of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) overnight, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani on Thursday accused the Centre of wanting to “hand over” the prime land to “one of their ATMs”.
After an emergency meeting chaired by PSM Chief Executive Officer General (r) Zaheer Ahmed Khan on Friday, the staffers belonging to category 2,3, and 4 pay groups were dismissed from their jobs. An earlier plan of revival also announced the provision of gratuity and provident funds which worked out at Rs19.657 billion.
In a press conference the following day, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar censured the PPP for turning the organisation “from a profit-making entity with billions in [its] bank account to a heavy loss-making and bankrupt entity” after the latter lambasted the “heartless” layoffs.
In his presser, Ghani claimed “several elements, including mafias, were eyeing” the organisation’s land.
Due to the poor financial condition of the Mills, the federal government had been paying net monthly salaries to its employees since 2013. The PSM stopped its commercial operations in June 2015 without formulating any human resource plan of its 14,753 employees.
Ghani, however, insisted the reason behind shuttering down of PSM was not the financial loss, but the value of the land it was built on, adding that “some people wanted to usurp it”.
“An incapable, selected cabinet cannot make decisions regarding steel mills and its employees,” he declared and said that the Sindh government will stand by the PSM employees who were recently axed.
He said that the land, on which PSM was built, belonged to the Sindh government which can retrieve it any time it wanted to.
The provincial minister criticised the incumbent federal government and said over the past two years, it had done nothing to revive the mother organisation and now resorted to firing people.
The federal government’s arguments regarding PSM bleeding out cash were all “drama”, he said, adding that the PPP government can “run the steel mills and make it profitable as well”.
He rubbished claims by government ministers that the PSM went into a loss when the PPP came to power in Centre. Ghani said that at the time, the world was facing an economic recession which had affected the steel sector as well.
When Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power in 1997, he said, the economic situation had improved and PSM was at breakeven. “However, it came to a halt when its gas supply was discontinued leading to a loss,” Ghani insisted.
The gas supply to PSM was discontinued in 2015 when the PML-N was in power between 2013 and 2018.
Ghani vowed to stand by the PSM employees, who he said had the right to protest. He recalled that Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar had once said that if PSM staffers were wronged, he would stand by them instead of the government.
The PPP leader also called upon Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) ministers to “speak up in the cabinet and resign if their voice is not heard”.