ISLAMABAD - The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) is looking for Rs5 billion from Saudi Arabia businessman on deferred payments basis for improving the performance of the country’s biggest state-run retail chain having the wide outreach. Mushtaq Ahmad, acting managing director (MD), on Tuesday informed a parliamentary committee that government is working to revive the USC, which is facing financial issues. He disclosed that USE is working on a contract with some Saudi Arabia businessman for obtaining funds up to Rs 5 billion on two years deferred payments basis, for improving the performance of Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production was held at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Sajid Hussain Turi, MNA. The Committee discussed the performance of the USC and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA).

The MD, USC told the Committee about the grievances of employees regarding regularisation of the contractual employees. He said that Establishment Division has informed that the said matter may be decided by the USC at its own level, which may be decided in the Board of the USC, shortly.

He also briefed the Committee about the infrastructure of USC. He informed that USC was established in 1971 as Private Limited Company under Companies Ordinance 1984, (now called Companies Act, 2017). Its major functions were to protect the real income of the people by selling essential consumer items at prices lower than those prevailing in the open market and to act as a price moderator in the market and deterrent to profiteering, hoarding and black marketing. He also informed the Committee about the existing infrastructure including strength of employees. He said that USC was comprised 9 zones, 65 regions, 130 warehouses and 3942 stores including 92 franchises. He added that 5862 regular, 3835 contractual and 3403 daily wages employees were working in USC. He presented the breakup of USC network in different areas of the country. He briefed the Committee about the modern techniques proposed by the USC for its smooth and efficient working.       

While, discussing the performance of USC, the Committee members were of the view that Government should provide subsidy for smooth working of the Corporation. Managing Director also briefed the Committee about year wise sales, subsidy provided by the government, net profit loss and taxes paid by the Corporation.

The Committee recommended that inquiry report regarding supply of substandard Ghee to USC and other utility items, which were stopped at that time, may be furnished to the Committee for its consideration. The Committee unanimously recommended that Mushtaq Ahmed, Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Industries & Production, currently holding look after charge of the post of MD, Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan may be allowed to continue as Acting Chairman, USC till 30th June, 2019. 

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SMEDA briefed the Committee about the vision and mission of the authority. He expressed the mandate of SMEDA as per ordinance wherein, SMEDA was responsible for making policy and to provide overall planning relating to SMEs sector in Pakistan by protecting the interest of SMEs. He added that SMEDA was also providing assistance for establishing association of persons, firm company, body or corporate concerning SMEs in Pakistan.

He said that SMEDA was functioning according to its vision i.e. “Growth of Globally Competitive SME sector, through a conducive environment and support services, serving as an engine of sustainable growth for national economy”. He also explained the mission of SMEDA and operational strategies such as developing sectors, clusters and facilitation of service.