Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Bukhari said on Thursday that the government was not shutting down Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), insisting that changes were being made "as a step towards restructuring it".
In a two-part tweet, the prime minister's aide said the PTDC will continue to work as a "federal implementation body under NTCB (National Tourism Coordination Board)".
"We‘re making changes in PTDC as a step towards restructuring it in accordance with global best practices & NOT shutting it down," he tweeted. "This was imp to do because over time due to mismanagement of resources & political appointments it had become a stagnant organisation running in loss."
In a second tweet, Bukhari said: "For those causing hue & cry, there’s no need for it — PTDC is finally on its way to become a more efficient org with better workforce & improved policy making."
His tweets came after the government shut down PTDC motels in the northern areas and terminated the services of employees. A notification issued on Thursday said that the corporation was forced to take this decision as it had been suffering losses continuously.
It said the decision was taken following an “in-depth analysis of the present situation and consideration of the facts and circumstances in the company and in the best interest of the employees, company and shareholders for survival and future viability", adding that the company was left with no other option "but to take these painful decisions".
“Due to continuous and irreparable financial losses having no other resource and the current Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government and PTDC Board of Directors unanimously resolved to close down the operations of the company,” the notification said.
About 24 or 25 properties now shut down in the entire north are other than the six ‘sick’ motels and restaurants the corporation had closed down in March last year.
NTCB member Aftab Rana said the motels had already been shut after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. “However, it has already been decided that the federal government would withdraw from the business mode of the corporation and exclusively promote tourism and that its properties will be privatised,” he said.
He said the PTDC had decided to offer a $1.4 billion package to its employees as golden handshake.
“Unfortunately, the PTDC employees decided to take the matter to court where it is still pending,” he said.
He said the corporation had accumulated losses of up to Rs1 billion. “It has been running on taxpayers’ money and only paying salaries to an unproductive staff. There was no income being generated through its properties.
“It is a hard decision to close down these operations, but keeping all these considerations in view the government has decided to privatise PTDC properties. There is no other option,” Rana said.