The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation or PTDC is an organization of the Government of Pakistan. PTDC is governed by the Board of Directors and provides transportation to various areas and owns and runs several motels across the country. It was incorporated on 30 March 1970.
When a government or a tourism board operates hotels, this will open up the door for corruption in many places. Pakistan is no exception.
The former employees of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and its subsidiary PTDC Motels have demanded an investigation about possible corruption that took place in PTDC during the previous government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan,
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Pakistan was asked to investigate the closure of Pakistan Development Corporations’ 39 establishments, including 23 motels that were closed in 2019. This closure created a huge loss and cost more than 250 skilled hospitality workers their job.
These accommodations were closed 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 created losses was contrary to the fact that such motels paid 10 Million Rupees ($53,263 USD) in taxes per location. However, accommodations were completely shut down in the winter of 2019, and then they were never reopened.
A notification was issued in July 2020 stating that the corporation was forced to close 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 decided to close down the operations of the company.
At the same time, 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 to fight 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 claimed that Azam Khan, the Secretary Tourism KPK before assuming the charge of Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister, tried to occupy PTDC motels in KPK by force in using the 18th amendment blanket but PTDC employees resisted.
When he became Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister he used all his powers to shut down the motels and ruin the PTDC.
Former employees claim that former Prime Minister Imran Khan had been saying that he wanted to promote tourism in Pakistan but things were different.
Tourism faced a total collapse under his government due to several reasons.
One of the reasons was 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 notifications were based on 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, and shareholders for survival and future viability. They said all justifications for closure were contrary to the facts.
They claimed the then Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Bukhari had been lying constantly. He said in July 2020 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 wider tourism industry in Pakistan and the Pakistan Association of Tour Operators (PATO) called it discouraging news.
At the same time, the government was claiming to promote tourism in the country.
PATO said that the closing down of PTDC motels and restaurants which were located at important traveling routes would cause serious issues for tour operators since PTDC motels were considered the first option for families and foreign tourists traveling along in remote areas of Pakistan.
“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 a 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 were not properly compensated and were given only three-month salaries after their termination. Most staff of PTDC Motel were highly skilled and had 25 to 30 years of experience.
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 establishment expenditures.