Sick units

Southasia - - EDITOR’S MAIL -

In his in­ter­view to SouthAsia mag­a­zine, es­teemed for­mer Chief Jus­tice, Saee­duz­za­man Sid­diqui de­fended the Iftikhar Chaudhry-led Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion to stop the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Pak­istan Steel Mills. The ob­jec­tion raised by many people in this re­gard is that the pri­va­ti­za­tion process was not fair and that the mill was be­ing sold at a throw­away price.

While it is true that the PSM is a huge as­set worth bil­lions, one can­not just say that it was given for peanuts with­out tak­ing into ac­count the whole pic­ture. Since 2006, when the PSM’s pri­va­ti­za­tion was stopped by the SC, the govern­ment of Pak­istan has in­jected over Rs150 bil­lion into sus­tain­ing this gi­ant in­dus­trial unit. The mill em­ploys more than 16,000 and it is an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity that a large ma­jor­ity of this work­force was ap­pointed on po­lit­i­cal ba­sis. Such in­duc­tions were done by ev­ery suc­ces­sive govern­ment.

Let me fur­ther sim­plify the mat­ter by stat­ing an ex­am­ple here. When we go to the mar­ket to buy some­thing, we try to get the best prod­uct at a rea­son­able price. The same prin­ci­ple ap­plies to the sale of huge yet sick in­dus­trial units. You can’t sim­ply sell a loss-mak­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion against its ac­tual worth. Com­pro­mises have to be made if the long-term aim is re­vival of sick unit in ques­tion.

Bi­lal Mustafa

Karachi, Pak­istan

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