ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has decided to write letters to the prime minister, the four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir to highlight the poor state of affairs at the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) ‘despite high potential’ for tourism in the country.
The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Tuesday decided this in a meeting, chaired by Senator Talha Mahmood, in the Parliamentary Lodges. The senators expressed serious reservations over the sorry state of affairs at the PTDC.
They said the PTDC was offering a poor financial and managerial output despite having a vast network of hotels across the country. The committee was told by the PTDC officials and the Cabinet Division that there are 39 PTDC motels but the profit for the ongoing fiscal year is just Rs1.1 million.
The figure shocked many including the chairperson. “So it means it (PTDC) performing abysmally but nobody cares,” the chairperson said. The members were briefed that PTDC’s annual fund is Rs200 million but Rs180 million is spent on the salaries of the employees.
“We hardly get to spend Rs10 million on tourism,” an official stated.
The PTDC Managing Director Ilyas Khan told the committee that the federal government annually issues Rs200m grant to the PTDC but nothing has been received against its development budget since 2011.
This was the moment when the talk shifted from financial and managerial aspects to the 18th Amendment and how it ‘disturbed’ tourism in the country.
The officials also said the PTDC’s Flashman Hotel is worth Rs72 billion while Senator Javed Abbasi claimed that the corporation had a property of Rs500 to Rs600 billion. He suggested that after the 18th Amendment the issue of ownership of the PTDC was the major issue.
“Unless you resolve the issue of ownership, nothing will work out, I bet,” he remarked.
The committee members decided to write to the PM and four provincial governments as well as the G-B and the AJK to discuss the current state of affairs with them and how tourism could be promoted in the country.
Senator Rubina Khalid said even after the devolution tourism should be a central subject as someone from abroad cannot approach each province if there is no centralised forum to tour the country.
The committee was also surprised to know that since last September the PTDC board of directors is not functional and the new members have yet to be elected. Senator Abbasi said the only way forward would be to resolve the matter of PTDC’s ownership.
“You can only step ahead if we decide the question of who owns the corporation after the devolution.” He also suggested that matters of tourism should be initiated in partnership with private companies.
Senator Tahir Bazai maintained that everybody is blaming the corporation’s poor performance on evolution but one must review what the PTDC had been doing before the devolution. “They were not any different,” he said.