Senate body for clearing PSM retired employees’ dues within 18 months

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 21 (APP):The Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production Monday asked the federal government to clear around Rs15 billion outstanding dues of retired employees of the Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM) within 18 months.

The committee, which met here with Senator Ahmed Ali in the chair, advised the Finance Division to make the payment in three six-monthly installments of Rs 5 billion each.

The committee chairman, on the occasion, suggested that the steel imports into the country should be routed through the PSM for onward distribution to help it generate some revenue.

PSM Chairman Aamir Mumtaz informed the committee that the mill had recovered its outstanding dues of Rs 238 million from the National Industrial Park (NIP), which would be disbursed among the retired employees as per the court verdict.

The sale of steel slab, he said, could also generate around Rs 5 billion; however for the Finance Ministry’s help was needed to get the charge of National Bank of Pakistan on the material removed.

A Finance Ministry official told the committee that the ministry could initiate any action if a formal request for the purpose was received from the PSM.

The PSM chairman said Rs 5.2 billion outstanding dues were cleared in 2018 and Rs 4.8 billion during the current year, in addition to Rs 1.5 billion on account of deceased quota.

Another PSM representative Mumraiz Khan suggested that the PSM’s tariff must be rationalized to revive the industry. They had prepared a revival plan, which could be shared with the committee and relevant authorities for a decision, he added.

The committee also recommended that the Utility Store Corporation (USC) of Pakistan should be given tax exemption as it was a welfare organization working for the benefit of common people.

The committee recommended that the corporation should be given subsidy to provide relief to the common masses, noting that it was not given any subsidy since 2014.

The committee also seconded the proposal of USC Managing Director Umer Lodhi that the payment of Rs 2,000 to the beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) should be routed through the USC, which would provide them ration.

However, BISP Chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar said the proposal was not feasible as the BISP transferred cash to the beneficiaries directly as per its policies and procedures. Moreover, the quarterly grant of Rs 5,000 was supposed to be spent by the poor beneficiaries on health, education and foods, she added.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood said any decision in that regard should be taken by the federal government.

A Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) official informed the committee that on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the PPRA rules for purchasing stocks by the USC for distribution among the poor people were revised.

Earlier, the USC managing director informed the committee that the corporation had been running in loss while it paid taxes of Rs 1.471 billion during the fiscal year 2018-19.

He said the USC had some 12,869 employees against its requirement of 7,000 whose monthly salaries were Rs 7.02 billion.