Reacting to charges of corruption
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has dismissed the chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation and asked the interior ministry to probe the charges of corruption made against him in the media. Since the “scandals” aired on the media related also to the PIA and the Pakistan Trading Corporation, he has asked the Auditor General to start investigating his government’s years in power and set aside the investigations focusing on the misdeeds of 15 years ago.
The Steel Mill has been making losses after the tapering off of the international boom triggered by high growth rates in China and India. The Supreme Court quashed its privatisation but the period of boom soon came to an end and the demand for steel went down.
Now the Mill is making losses of approximately two billion rupees a month. No one can honestly say that there is no corruption in a state-owned corporation. But no one can also claim that after sacking its chairman, the steel mill will take off once again. In fact, it is a universal fact that corporations run by the state and prevented from being privatised by courts will go bankrupt sooner or later.
If the interior ministry in fact unearths hanky-panky in the Steel Mill, then the PPP will have to take the rap. It is in this light that the step taken by Mr Gilani should be welcomed. He has set on foot a process that will either doom his government as one that runs on favouritism or will encourage the media that is gunning for his government.
There is no dearth of incompetence, however. The sugar crisis in the country has been mishandled. The bureaucrats reacted stupidly to TV reports and advised raids on the sugar mills. The sector was described as the monopoly of the powerful politicians. After the raids, the government was forced to retreat and say the sugar mills were not to blame. The media had misled the government. And the sugar crisis continues. Let’s hope the Steel Mill probe doesn’t end the same way. (Daily Times)