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Sindh demands control over tourism assets, rejects PM’s executive order

KARACHI: The Sindh government has refused to accept the executive order of the prime minister against the devolution of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), saying it could not override the Constitution, it emerged on Wednesday.

The provincial administration has also demanded full control of the assets and properties of the now defunct tourism ministry and archaeology division.

“The constitutional body of the Implementation Commission decided the matter of the PTDC and as such, it cannot be overridden by the executive order of the honourable prime minister of Pakistan,” said a communiqué of the Sindh government sent to Islamabad regarding the lingering controversy over the issue, which, otherwise, was settled by the 18th Amendment.

“As per the 18th Amendment, all the institutions earlier owned by the federal ministry of archaeology and tourism should be handed over to the Government of Sindh as decided by the Implementation Commission,” said the communication.

It said after the 18th Amendment, the tourism ministry had been devolved and tourism was declared among provincial subjects. Islamabad had already handed over Pakistan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (PITHM) and the Department of Tourist Services (DTS), Karachi, to the Sindh government’s tourism ministry.

It said the remaining assets had not been transferred to the Sindh government which included the Central Archaeological Library, Pakistan Culture and Arts Foundation Relief Fund, and Museum Compensation Fund.

Besides, PTDC’s four properties are to be handed over to the Sindh government, which are: a motel at Hawkesbay in Karachi, tourist information centre in Thatta, a motel and tourist information centre at Moenjodaro, and approximately 32-kanal land in Sukkur.

Officials said with the groundbreaking amendment to the Constitution, the federal government had abolished five ministries in April, 2011, which dealt with culture, education, livestock and dairy development, social welfare and special education, and tourism.

However, certain functions of those ministries or divisions had been retained at the federal level and stood relocated. More than 35 such functions had been retained by Islamabad, most of which were relocated to the Cabinet Division. However, almost all the key functions and assets stood devolved to the provinces.

The Sindh government took exception to a federal government claim in which it said the PTDC’s devolution involved certain “misconceptions” that led to the provinces to claim their control on authority, assets and properties.

In a past communication to Karachi, the federal government quoted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as saying: “PTDC as a public limited corporation, set up under Companies Ordinance 1984, is not required to be devolved in pursuance to the 18th Constitutional Amendment.”

It also said the prime minister had asked to review various aspects of the devolution of PTDC with a view to protect it as a corporate entity at the federal level. The bureaucracy in Islamabad proposed to the federal government later that there was “enough legal space” for PTDC to continue to operate as a corporate entity through a resolution by its board of directors, and for PTDC to continue its functions as a federal corporate entity and manage its assets or facilities through public-private partnership so as to make it a self-sustaining organisation.

Officials in Islamabad said the claim of provinces, especially the governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), could not be acceded to till the decision was received from the PM’s office. They said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government “tried to forcibly occupy” the motels of PTDC in the province which was “successfully resisted”.

“The matter was challenged before the Peshawar High Court and subsequently before Islamabad High Court impleading other provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir as parties and obtained stay orders,” said a communication from Islamabad to Sindh.

Officials in the Sindh government, however, maintained that an executive order by the prime minister cannot supersede the Constitution.

“We will continue to resist the federal government’s tactics aimed at resisting the constitutional authority and control given to the provinces,” said a senior official.

courtesy : dawn news

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