Pakistani PM, while justifying Rs. 25 billion bail-out package to Pakistan Steel Mills has declared PSM as a national assets. Express Tribune, of the International Herald Tribune, in a recent Article has stated that over the past two years, PSM has lost over Rs 45 billion. This is in addition to the fact that the corporation has been a perennial basket-case that has caused nothing but headaches for the government. And now, on Friday, the government announced a Rs 25 billion bailout package for the company.

The company could fetch $362 million five years ago if its privatization was allowed to go ahead. That amount at the present exchange rate comes to Rs. 31 billion. And mind you, PSM was not a loss making enterprise then. Imagine how much will it fetch today when it does not have even sufficient funds to pay off its basic obligations like salaries and wages of the employees. The bail out package will bail out the company for an interim period but will it eventually bail it out to make it sell-able, let alone profitable?  The article in the Express Tribune is silent about it. There is no doubt, though the paper questions this assertion, that PSM is a national asset as PM has correctly pointed out.  But does it mean that it is open to plunder by whoever can lay his hands on it? At least this is what we do with every national asset.  Please comment.