LAHORE – The Lahore Development Authority (LDA), facing financial and administrative turmoil with its budgetary deficit standing at more than Rs 2 billion, is on a rampage to sell its assets to avoid impending bankruptcy, Pakistan Today has learnt. Over the last three months, hundreds of assets in shape of plots, dispensaries, plazas and buildings have been put on auction to generate money to save the authority, getting cash-strapped day-by-day, from deep looming crisis.

As per the 2011-12 budget announced by LDA, it has been estimated to have resources at Rs 20 billion against expected expenditure of Rs 22 billion, including Rs 15 billion earmarked for development works.

LDA’s asset selling drive has been intensified to reduce the gap between resources and expenditures. However, according to a senior LDA official, it will prove to be exercise in futility as the drive was nothing but half-baked strategy formulated by LDA DG Abdul Jabbar Shaheen. “Unless LDA takes step to mitigate administrative irregularities, financial plunge is a must,” he added.

At present, LDA has been advertising to sell Park and Ride Plaza, Finance and Trade Center, Johar Town, plots and dispensaries. It has also planned to build more parking plazas with an aim to sell them as business and earn money.

Meanwhile, LDA has already established a Lahore Regeneration Agency (LRA) to ensure maximum utilisation of available resources to generate revenue for the development of infrastructure. For the purpose, the agency has initiated long-term ventures in various commercial areas of the city. The agency has planned to construct commercial and car parking plazas besides other viable trade centres in the city and facilitate expatriates, especially in the United States, Europe and Middle East, to invest in the ventures. New agency has been tasked to complete mega projects in busy commercial and industrial localities of the city and the revenue generated from these projects would later be spend on city’s development. The mega projects include parking plazas, commercial plazas and other buildings.

Besides, LDA has stepped up its efforts to establish a Central Business District (CBD) in the city comprising of Jail road, Main Boulevard, MM Alam Road, segment of Hali Road and Shahrae Noor Jehan, Gulberg for inducing more investment, business and employment opportunities in the city. Work on the first phase has already been started in the form of construction of first ‘Park and Ride Plaza at the Liberty Market.

With a view to mint money to dispel financial crisis, LDA also planned re-auctioning of 31 petrol pumps whose lease has expired over the last many years. The move came after Public Account Committee of Punjab Assembly grilled former LDA DG Umer Rasool over the irregularities in the lease properties on May 14, 2011. The petrol pumps are situated at Gulberg, Faisal Town, Shah Jamal, Shadman, Sabzazar, Allama Iqbal and Ravi Town. However, the plan could not be executed in totality, so it could not help rack up LDA’s income.

In a desperate manner, LDA recently announced new commercialisation policy on July 2 with incentives including withdrawal of all sorts of bars on the building height and plot size. LDA also dropped a number of development projects including Township Degree College, Urology Hospital and Nawaz Sharif Sports Complex. It also dumped the mega project called LDA tower. The 40-story skyscraper, called LDA tower, has been planned to be constructed at Jail Road as per future plan list under vision 2025 designed to uplift city in lines with high-tech modern metropolises in the world.