LAHORE: The privatization of Services International Hotel (SIH) in Lahore has been a controversial and delayed process.
Despite the buyer having paid the full purchase price, top officials from the Ministry of Privatization and members of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) are causing roadblocks in the transition.
As per the details, the Privatization Commission approved the sale of the hotel, located on prime real estate in Lahore, for Rs 1.94 billion in August 2021, but it has yet to be completed.
In August 2021, an open public auction was held and Faisal Town (Pvt) Limited made the highest bid of Rs 1,951,718,500.
Additionally, the bid was approved by the CCoP in September 2021 and ratified by the federal cabinet in October 2021.
The buyer also deposited the full payment on January 6, 2022. However, the signing of the sale deal and transfer of title has not been completed.
The sub-committee under the Minister for Privatization conducted a fresh valuation of the property through an independent valuer, who submitted the report on August 15, 2022.
The valuation was reviewed by the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) and confirmed by the sub-committee.
Faisal Town (Pvt) Limited issued a legal notice on October 4, 2022, due to the delay in the signing of the sale deal and transfer of title.
In the last week of December 2022, the CCoP discussed the case in detail and the secretary of the Privatization Division highlighted that the due diligence was carried out in accordance with the Privatization Commission Ordinance of 2000.
The secretary of the Law and Justice Division observed that the transaction was conducted correctly and without any legal lacunae.
However, the SAPM on Government Effectiveness raised objections about the review by the FIA as it has no mandate for the valuation of the property.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Privatization was directed to refer the case to the Law and Justice Division for review and to confirm if the privatization process was carried out according to the prescribed laws.
The report is expected to be submitted to the CCoP for consideration within a week.