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Senate panel wants PTDC’s properties leased out to private sector

Updated March 22, 2019

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A view of a session in the Senate.— APP/File
A view of a session in the Senate.— APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Thursday directed the Cabinet Division to design a plan to uplift the Pakistan Tourism Development Corpora­tion (PTDC) and restore its glory.

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Division presided over by its chairman Mohammad Talha Mahmood felt that the PTDC was a burden on the government. The committee directed that PTDC’s properties be leased out to the private sector which could help generate revenues.

According to the Cabinet Division, the last time PTDC saw good times were when Nilofar Bakhtiar was minister for tourism. “Since then no funds have been provided to the corporation for marketing purposes,” a senior official informed the committee.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is taking personal interest in promoting tourism in the country but the task force established by him to promote tourism decided earlier this month to close down six PTDC motels and restaurants in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that were continuously incurring losses.

Expresses displeasure over not getting details of expenses incurred on Saudi prince’s visit

“Still better would be that the government enter into partnership with the private sector, retaining ownership of PTDC’s properties worth billions of rupees and keeping share in the profits earned by the private parties,” Talha Mahmood said.

The committee expressed displeasure when the Cabinet Division failed to give satisfactory answers regarding expenses incurred during the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“The Cabinet Division was ill-prepared. Nonetheless, we have given them time to come up with answers when the committee meets next,” committee chairman Talha Mahmood said.

The committee met for a briefing on expenditures incurred on the visit of Prince Mohammad and details of vehicles rented for his protocol. The committee also sought details of the auction of PM House’s vehicles.

Heavy expenses had reportedly been incurred on rented cars of the Saudi Prince’s protocol. The committee would like to know official figures, Talha Mahmood said. “It makes no sense to auction official cars and then waste money on rented vehicles to receive dignitaries,” he added.

Nonetheless, the Cabinet Division informed the committee that the Foreign Office picked up expenses when dignitaries visited Pakistan.

A Cabinet Division official told the committee that as many as 102 vehicles were auctioned. Some 80 to 90 vehicles were junk and had to be disposed of. Out of the 102 vehicles, 55 belonged to the Cabinet Secretariat, 19 to the Intelligence Bureau, 18 to PM Office, one to the Federal Board of Revenue, and nine to the foreign ministry.

The meeting observed that less than 50 per cent of the cars were auctioned and those too, which were condemned. The asking prices for the remaining vehicles in running condition were too high and were not sold.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019