THIS is apropos the news item about PIA being interested in selling its Roosevelt Hotel in New York and finding a potential buyer (July 16).

This hotel is located at the best possible area of New York which is the hub of tourist activity. I have stayed in this hotel two or three times. Most of New York’s tourist attractions are within walking distance from this hotel.

I am surprised that PIA is pondering selling such an invaluable asset. There is no reason why it should not be earning a decent profit for its owners. PIA is not itself running this hotel. For a long time PIA has given this hotel on lease to a local firm and therefore it is out of the question that it has been causing financial loss to PIA. I would urge PIA not to contemplate disposing of such a lucrative asset.

There is an Indian restaurant in the vicinity of this hotel but no Pakistani restaurant. I would suggest one of the four restaurants in the hotel should have Pakistani dishes, and I am sure it will be an instant success.

One thing needs clarification. The news informs us that the hotel had been renovated from 1995 to 1997 at a cost of $65 million. If so, how was it sold only two years afterwards for only $35.5 million?

An intriguing thing about the hotel is that PIA had obtained it on lease in 1979, and in 1982-3 (that is within three years) PIA was contemplating getting rid of it. Why? This aspect has not been revealed in the news item.

A Pakistani
Karachi

(2)

APROPOS the report ‘Trump wants to buy Roosevelt Hotel, NA panel told’ (July 16). It is important that the credentials of those appointed at the helm of PIA Investments Limited (PIAIL) be probed to ensure there is no repeat of what happened in 1999.

The hotel is a $1.4 billion asset that belongs to the people of Pakistan. The deal, if any, should be subjected to close scrutiny by the auditor general of Pakistan.

PIA under Nur Khan acquired Roosevelt Hotel on a 20-year lease in 1979 with an option to purchase it at a fixed price of $36.5million. Despite this agreement, the individual who headed PIAIL in 1999 agreed to a higher price of $59.5million to benefit the owners and causing a loss to PIA.

Why was the individual involved in this irregularity allowed to continue as head of the PIA subsidiary and now out of the blue, at the age of 80 years, this American passport holder has been nominated on the PIA board of directors?

It is strange that while PIAIL is 100 per cent owned by the federal government and its headquarters are based in Pakistan, the board of directors continues to meet abroad and its accounts have never been scrutinised by AGP.

Furthermore, the government must wait for market to stabilise before finalising the joint venture option while ensuring the individual appointed to head PIAIL should be a person of integrity who does not hold dual nationality.

Czar Salman
Cyberjaya, Malaysia

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2020

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