From a management trainee appointed in 1980, P K Singh is set to become the chairman of the country’s largest steelmaker in the public sector, SAIL. Government head-hunter Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) on Monday recommended the name of Singh, currently chief executive officer of SAIL’s Durgapur unit, as the next boss of the company.
PESB on Monday interviewed 12 candidates for the top post of the company. Among them were two company directors and three chairman and managing directors of other PSUs. PESB found Singh to be the most suitable for steering the company to its next phase of growth.
The post of permanent chairman in the company has been lying vacant since incumbent CS Verma was refused an extension by the government in June. Steel secretary Rakesh Singh has been given the additional charge. Verma was appointed as SAIL chairman for a five-year term in June 2010 by the previous UPA government, but was eligible for an extension till he attained the superannuation age of 60 years in September 2019.
The PESB had on June 17, 2015 sought application for the SAIL chairman’s post stating that the appointment would be for five years or up to the date of superannuation, whichever is earlier. However, Singh is supposed to retire from the job in April, 2018 upon his superannuation.
Sources said 15 aspirants were shortlisted for the position, but three of them did not turn up for the interview. The last date for submitting the application was August 7.
Known for his expertise in the field of production, Singh is an alumnus of IIT, Roorkee. He took over as the CEO of Durgapur Steel Plant in May, 2012. He has been posted in all the steel plants of the company during his course of 35 years’ service so far in SAIL.
Following the recommendation of the PESB, it would require the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet for the person to take over.
The new task, at the helm of a company, would certainly be a challenging one for the new chairman to steer SAIL out of the current phase.
Not just because of its inherent problems of excess and ageing workforce, the domestic steel industry is actually in deep waters now primarily due to burgeoning imports from China, Japan, Korea and Russia. Though the government has raised import duty on the alloy for a couple of times, each time by 2.5%, it didn’t benefit the industry much.
SAIL is in the final stages of completion of its Rs 72,000-crore modernisation and expansion programme that would enhance its hot metal capacity to 23.5 mtpa. The company has also readied a blueprint to take its capacity to 50 mtpa by 2025 with an investment of Rs 1.5 lakh crore.