The Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) has decided on Thursday that the Pakistan International Airlines-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York will not be privatised and would be run under a joint venture with the private sector.
The decision was taken by the cabinet committee, which met today under the chairmanship of Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Today’s meeting also denotified the task force formed for the sale of the hotel. The committee also agreed to appoint a financial adviser to assist the government in this regard.
The meeting was attended by ministers for communications, law and justice, privatisation and power and advisers on commerce and investment and institutional reforms and austerity.
A special invitation was also given to the minister for industries and production and the State Bank of Pakistan governor, among others.
On Wednesday it was reported the CCOP was taking up the privatisation of Roosevelt Hotel, located at a pricey location in Manhattan.
As per a “secret, most urgent” notice dated June 19, issued by the Cabinet Division, a copy of which is available with The News, the CCOP was to take up the matter on Tuesday.
However, Privatisation Ministry/Commission Secretary Rizwan Malik told The News that the meeting may be held on Wednesday or Thursday because of the session of the federal cabinet.
The summary for the privatisation of the Roosevelt Hotel was prepared by the Aviation Division.
Rizwan Malik, at the time, had also clarified that the Roosevelt Hotel was not being sold, as was generally understood from the term, privatisation. He said the basic objective was to involve investors so that the PIA gets handsome money to improve its conditions and the asset is utilised in a beneficial manner.
The secretary agreed that it was not a good time to seek investment in view of the COVID-19, which has affected the business across the globe.
He said the process would take a long time as a lot of things were yet to be sorted out before the privatisation.
PPP, PML-N oppose privatisation
Both the main opposition parties have opposed the government move to sell the hotel.
While talking to Geo News anchor, Shahzaib Khanzada, PML-N leader Kh Wasif said this is not the right time to sell the hotel as the property prices have crashed globally.
Meanwhile, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said the government has become a slave to various cartels and mafias and it seems that grounds and reasons are being prepared to privatise the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Roosevelt Hotel at a tuppence to the cronies of the government.
He said the irresponsible statement of the federal government on the alleged false and irregular licences of pilots has resulted in grave consequences for the national carrier, PIA.
The talk of privatisation of the Roosevelt Hotel is going over during the tenures of successive governments the past several years. However, every regime was finally impelled to abandon it on the charge, levelled by its detractors, of working out a dubious deal to favour any preferred party.
The issue also came up before a recent meeting of the federal cabinet when outsourcing of some international airports of Pakistan.
Some ministers strongly opposed the privatisation of this national asset, located at the most expensive area of New York. A committee was constituted to mull over the privatisation.
During the good old days of the PIA in the seventies, the national carrier had purchased four hotels in New York, Paris, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Later, the hotels in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi were sold. The hotels in New York and Paris are still retained by the PIA.