As efforts are accelerated to sell Roosevelt Hotel, Pakistan has expressed hope that New York authorities will declare the hotel as a cultural heritage after completion of 100 years since its construction.
The matter was highlighted in a recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP).
The caretaker government has directed the cabinet body to expedite the process of hiring financial advisers for the sale of Roosevelt Hotel, as approved by the CCOP.
It was informed during the CCOP meeting that on August 22, 2023 the committee gave the directive to initiate the process of hiring financial advisers to lease the Roosevelt site. Earlier, the Request for Proposal was approved in March 2023 while in May 2023, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved Aviation Division’s summary to lease Roosevelt Hotel to NY City Health and Hospitals.
The Aviation Division also communicated that the Privatisation Commission (PC) may continue to press ahead with the hiring of advisers. In August, 2023, the CCOP directed the officials concerned to initiate the hiring process and publish advertisements in the leading New York and national newspapers.
A few days later, the cabinet ratified CCOP’s decision, noting that advertisements would be published shortly.
The committee was apprised of the developments pertaining to chances of the hotel being declared a cultural heritage by New York authorities following completion of 100 years since its construction in 1924.
In the huddle, the Ministry of Privatisation secretary briefed the cabinet body about the country’s privatisation programme. He gave updates about the status of companies on the active privatisation list and added that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had been included in the list in 2013.
From that year onwards, many attempts had been made for its restructuring. In this regard, the PC appointed a consortium in 2014 to pave the way for private sector participation in core airline operations.
The financial advisers completed a comprehensive due diligence in 2015. Based on the advisers’ recommendations and after the required legislative process, the PIAC (Conversion) Act 2016 was passed, whereby PIA was converted into a public limited company, namely Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL).
The Act, under Sub-section 4, restricted the federal government from transferring management control as well as privatising airline business to ensure that it kept at least 51% shares. Thus, only 49% shares could be divested. However, this provision made PIACL unattractive for private sector participation. On August 7, 2023, the parliament approved an amendment to the said provision to facilitate the privatisation of PIACL.
The CCOP then approved the inclusion of PIA in the privatisation programme and the cabinet also ratified it.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2023.