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Former employees demand Chairman NAB probe corruption in PTDC during the PTI regime

Islamabad, Pakistan: The former employees of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and its subsidiary PTDC Motels have demanded the Chairman NAB to probe into the corruption that took place in PTDC during the previous government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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They are of the view that NAB must probe into the closure of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation’s 39 establishments including 23 motels that were closed down in 2019, causing a huge loss to the public exchequer and joblessness to over 250 skilled employees.

These accommodations were closed down under the pretext that motels were causing losses and PTDC had to be restructured. The justification given by the then Chairman PTDC Zulfi Bukhari that motels were in losses was contrary to fact and only Naran PTDC motel was giving 10 million taxes to the public exchequer annually and one can calculate the total amount that a single accommodation was earning. According to former staff of PTDC Naran, the earnings of the accommodation was over 20 million. One can understand the total earning of 39 accommodations if only one accommodation was earning over 20 million. However, accommodations were completely shut down in winter 2019, and then they were never reopened. Season 2022 is the third season PTDC lost earnings in the public exchequer.

It may be mentioned that a notification was issued in July 2020 stating that the corporation was forced to close down motels/establishments because it had been suffering losses continuously.

The notification said that due to continuous financial losses having no other resources 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. However, the facts were otherwise and the PTI government wanted to lease motels among their friends and wanted completely close down the PTDC Motel subsidiary of the Corporation. However, it was not so simple to sell these motels because motels were constructed by procuring the land in most of the area under section 4 and section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act under which the land was acquired from landowners as it was needed for a public purpose or for a Company.

Former PTDC employees claim that shutting down PTDC motels had ulterior motives therefore they went to Peshawar High Court against the closure of the motels. They claim that the dark era of PTDC started from the very day Azam Khan took over the charge of Principal Secretary of the then Prime Minister Imran Khan because he had a personal vendetta with PTDC staff. They claim that Azam Khan was Secretary Tourism KPK before assuming the charge of Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister and he tried to occupy PTDC motels in KPK by force using the 18th amendment blanket but PTDC employees resisted forcefully occupation of motels so when he became Principal Secretary of Prime Minister he used all powers to shut down motels and ruin the PTDC. Former employees said that former Prime Minister Imran Khan had been claiming that he wanted to promote tourism in Pakistan but things were otherwise and tourism faced total collapse under his government due to several reasons including the closure of PTDC motels situated at prime tourism destinations, providing safe accommodation to foreigners and domestic tourists families.

Giving details about their claim, they said that PTDC closure notification was a bundle of lies and that 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. They said all justifications for closure were contrary to fact.

They claimed the then Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Bukhari had been lying constantly and he said in July 2020 that the government was not shutting down Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), insisting that changes were being made “as a step towards restructuring it. However, this restructuring had never taken place. They claimed that provincial Minister Atif Khan, Shahram Khan Tarakai, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, and former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Azam Khan had been instrumental in the disaster of PTDC and shutting down of PTDC motels.

 


The decision to close PTDC Motels was widely criticized by the entire tourism industry in Pakistan and the Pakistan Association of Tour Operators (PATO) called the decision discouraging news, especially when the government was claiming to promote tourism in the country. PATO said that the closing down of PTDC motels and restaurants which were situated on important traveling routes would cause serious issues for tour operators because PTDC motels were considered the first option for families traveling along with remote areas and for foreigners.

It may be mentioned that PTDC motels were constructed on important tourism routes after carefully selected places to offer tourists a break and much-needed rest after covering distances before they proceed further to their destination. Baltistan Association of Adventure Tour Operators (BAATO) also rejected the decision.

Expressions of several former officials and employees of the former Ministry of Tourism and PTDC are as follow:

“There is no doubt that the 18th amendment shifted Ministry of Tourism to the provincial concurrent list, therefore, Tourism is no more a subject of Federation.  Profiting motels of PTDC had been closed down and staff had been laid off. There were fears that these expensive properties would be placed in auctions once transferred to provinces. These properties were constructed in the majority of cases to use Section 4 for the procurement of prime lands in scenic areas by using the clause of Section 4 acquisition of land for the larger interest of the public. There would be serious legal fights over these motels once government would decide to auction them to private companies because previous owners of these properties/lands would use their right to get hold of them stating that they sold/left their lands under Section 4 and only for “larger interest of Public”.

Moreover, PTDC staff who was working for these motels for over three decades was not properly compensated and were given only three-months salaries at the time of laying off. This staff of PTDC Motel was highly skilled staff having 25 to 30 years of experience and this staff should not go to the drain.

There was a claim that PTDC Motels were a burden on the public exchequer but this was contrary to the fact because PTDC Motels had been earning in surplus rather than taking the burden of other PTDC wings and bridging resources for several other operations. In season, all PTDC Motels were run on 100 percent occupation with less than 50 percent running establishment expenditures.

Central Desk
Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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