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ISLAMABAD: The government is mulling to change the ownership of Jinnah Convention Centre from Capital Development Authority (CDA) to the interior ministry for privatising the building.

The Convention Centre is located at one end of the Constitution Avenue and is used as a venue for exhibitions and summits by private and public sector organisations.

The building is currently under the administrative control of the CDA.

Officials from the civic agency told a cabinet committee on privatisation on Thursday that the centre, built with the federal government’s funds, was located on a plot owned by the CDA.The officials said before privatisation of the building the government would have to pay the cost of the land to the CDA.

An official source said after paying the cost to the CDA the government would change the ownership of the land from CDA to the interior ministry and take any decision regarding its privatisation.

According to CDA officials Dawn spoke to, the centre was constructed in 1996 with bridge financing - the CDA funded the construction and later the federal government reimbursed the amount to it. However, the land on which the building stands still belongs to the CDA.

The officials said the government would pay the cost of the land to the CDA on subsidised rate with the approval of the prime minister and then the ownership would be changed, a prerequisite for moving ahead with privatisation of the building.

The officials said in the past the property was allotted to Cabinet Division subject to the fulfillment of required codal formalities such as obtaining approval of the prime minister and paying the CDA for the plot. But these formalities were not fulfilled.

The previous PML-N government also made efforts to privatise the building.

The officials said the property had good potential and there was no litigation over the plot and the potential buyers could be given 100 per cent of its share in a single day. “Truly speaking, the building is not useful for us as such a huge structure is useless for us. So it’s a good decision of the government to privatise it,” said the CDA officials, adding the civic agency annually spent a handsome amount on maintenance of the building.

Asked about the revenue being generated in terms of rent, they said: “If we generate revenue we also have to pay on maintaining the building. Our staff is also deputed there.”

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019