Following the opposition raising suspicion over the privatisation of Roosevelt Hotel, a PIA-owned luxury hotel in New York, the government on Tuesday assured the Senate of not having any such plans.
According to the opposition, the government was preparing the ground to sell out the 19-storey hotel at a throw-away price. In this regard, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) former senator Raza Rabbani alleged that the government wanted to bring the national airline into a position where other airlines could be provided space to operate by replacing it. “Is this a conspiracy against the PIA?” he questioned, alleging that the government wanted to make PIA redundant to fulfil its dream of privatising it.
Rabbani said the government claimed that the order of a court about attaching Roosevelt Hotel in Reko Diq case was an ex-parte order, questioning how it was possible since the government was aware when the hotel was mortgaged in the Reko Diq case.
“The government also claimed that the seizure of a PIA aircraft by Malaysian authorities was also done on an ex-parte order of the court. Why has PIA’s CEO not been asked why he made a vulnerable plane airborne,” he further asked.
The former Senate chairman stressed that Roosevelt Hotel came under the Federal Legislative List Part-II which was controlled by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) whereas the government’s any step in this regard without the approval of the council would be unconstitutional.
However, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Sirajul Haq said that the government had made a constitutional body like the CII inactive by letting the posts of its chairman and members remain vacant .
Earlier, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan informed the house through a written reply that Roosevelt Hotel was not being sold. “However, Cabinet Committee on Privatisation in its meeting held on 15th November, 2019 … considered the proposal submitted by Ministry of Privatisation regarding Leasing of the Roosevelt Site for setting up a Joint Venture Project,” the reply said. The same was under process in the ministry, he added.