Centre wants to retain Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation assetsPakistan
ISLAMABAD: Negating the gist of the 18th Amendment, the federal government has decided to retain assets worth billions of rupees of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).
The law ministry has sent a summary to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) for getting the approval of the federal cabinet to retain the PTDC.
Cabinet Division Secretary Nadeem Hassan Asif recently appeared before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) during hearing of an intra-court appeal and apprised the court that the federal government wanted to retain PTDC and its assets because tourism was a federal subject. The corporation’s management has filed an appeal against vacation of a stay order that had stayed away the provinces from occupying PTDC hotels and motels.
The court was informed that a summary had been sent to the law ministry seeking its consent how the centre can keep PTDC under its control.
MD says the entity cannot be devolved to provinces because it is registered under Companies Act
When contacted, PTDC Managing Director Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor said the law ministry had sent the summary to the PMO and it was expected that the federal cabinet would soon take a formal decision for retaining the corporation.
He said the federal government did not need an amendment in the constitutional to retain the corporation as it was a body registered under the Companies Act and, therefore, it could not be devolved to the provinces.
Under the 18th Amendment, more than a dozen federal ministries and allied departments, including the PTDC, were devolved to the provinces by the Pakistan Peoples Party government in 2010.
Some legal experts are of the view that a constitution amendment is required to undo the devolution of tourism ministry or PTDC, otherwise, any step taken by the federal government to retain them would be unconstitutional.
The PTDC MD said he had already filed a petition in the IHC seeking its permission to retain the corporation as a federal entity.
Since the devolution of the tourism ministry, the provinces were eager to occupy almost all PTDC hotels and motels. However, the corporation has been resisting the move and moved the court.
The MD said a major constraint in devolution of the PTDC was that the corporation’s all assets were not solely the government-owned properties but they have private shares and shares of its employees as well.
“Over 13 per cent shares of hotels are owned by private members and 22pc belong to its employees that were given to them by the PPP government,” he said.
Under the 18th Amendment, the responsibility of tourism development was devolved to the provinces, but the fate of PTDC’s 39 motels and resorts located in different parts of the country, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, still hangs in the balance as the provinces wanted to get these assets and the centre wanted to retain control of them.
At the time of the tourism ministry’s devolution to the provinces it was decided by the PTDC’s management that a liquidator would be appointed to evaluate actual value of each hotel/ motel/resort and they would be sold to the interested parties according to their value or present market rate. However, the liquidation process was opposed by the management of the corporation.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017