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EditorialRoosevelt Hotel — a good deal at last

Roosevelt Hotel — a good deal at last

Some good news for the national exchequer. The government has finally leased out Roosevelt Hotel, a property of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), to the New York city administration for three years against a sum of $220 million.

This was long overdue. The hotel had been in the news for quite some time. At one point, the government was also thinking of selling the asset off, which would have been a bad idea. Leasing the property out would help the government in generating a handsome amount of money.

According to Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique, a contract has been signed between the government and the New York administration. Addressing a press conference, a jubilant Mr Rafique said they had finally succeeded in finding a way out to overcome the challenges to the country’s most precious asset in New York.

Under the contract, the New York administration will operate the hotel for three years against $220 million. The minister said the amount would help them clear various liabilities of the hotel and also enable them to earn revenue.

Under the contract, room charges for the first year would be $202, $205 in second year and $210 in the third year. At the end of the contract, the hotel would be returned to the Pakistani government in the same condition as of today.

Located in Manhatten, the hotel which was named after American President Theodore Roosevelt opened in 1924. After passing through various hands, the Roosevelt Hotel was acquired by PIA and a Saudi prince. Later the airline bought the ownership stake from the Saudi prince.

The hotel had shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic due to loss, and reopened in 2023 to accommodate asylum seekers. New York Mayor Eric Adams had said that they had opened the hotel and 800 rooms out of a 1,000 were filled to accommodate asylum seekers.

Over a month ago, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet had constituted a committee to hold negotiations on the agreement with New York city administration and the hotel’s worker union. In January, rumours of selling off the hotel were put to rest when the Privatisation Commission told the Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation that the government had no plans to sell Roosevelt Hotel and was instead looking for joint ventures.

This agreement with the New York administration was not less than a major achievement.

The hotel had been facing loss for quite sometime now and was becoming more of a liability for the government. This agreement will bring in much needed revenue and improve reserves.

The present government needs to look for avenues that helps it generate revenue.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has announced that the upcoming budget would be investor friendly. He said the government would introduce long-term policies which would lead to sustainable economic growth and achieve economic targets. The government is trudging on a slippery road, and if it sincerely wants to lessen the burden on the common man, it has to think wisely. This would be for it’s own good.

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