In a case of superfluous expenditure termed a ‘planning and execution’ failure by the administration of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), two new aircraft were purchased for flight inspection by the authority at a cost of over Rs1 billion, instead of utilising an already available plane, revealed an audit report.
Officials from the CAA claimed they lacked the requisite human resources to make optimum use of the aircraft they already had for flight inspection, and therefore, instead of inducting more crew, they purchased two new aircraft for the purpose.
The massive misappropriation of public funds was detected by the office of Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) during the audit for 2010-11. The auditors discovered that the CAA, which works under the ministry of defence, purchased two new aircraft costing Rs. 1,075 million, with only one fitted with a flight inspection system (FIS).
The log books of the aircraft showed that the new aircraft have flown for 141 and 100 hours respectively since their induction, against expected flying time of 400 hours each year as prescribed in the tender documents.
Further investigations revealed that the CAA had installed a new automatic FIS in the already available Beech King-200 aircraft back in 2002, at a cost of $3 million.
Back then, the CAA claimed that following Beech King’s upgrading, they would not need to purchase any new aircraft for the next 15 years. However, the authority purchased the two new aircraft just five years later.
Meanwhile, the log book of the old aircraft revealed that it was still in operational condition and its newly installed FIS was fully functional. The aircraft, however, lacked sufficient supportive infrastructure including qualified pilots, calibration console engineer and qualified engineers for operation and maintenance of the aircraft components.
The issue came to the notice of the audit department in December 2009 and they pointed it to the CAA high-ups. The authority in its written reply said the ‘old’ Normarc FIS system did not have the capacity to inspect the latest navigation aids and procedures.
They claimed the old aircraft was kept operational to meet emergency requirements until the new aircraft were fully inducted, after which, they would auction the old one.
The office of AGP termed this reply untenable, asking the CAA to address this issue immediately.
The CAA took up the issue once again in its departmental accounts committee (DCC) meeting held in January 2011.
The committee observed that it was a ‘planning and execution’ failure, adding that optimum utilisation of aircraft was not being made due to non-availability of sufficient air crew and engineers which should have been addressed.
Unsatisfied with the reply and findings of the DCC, the AGP stressed for strict action on the irregularity and called for an investigation of the matter to fix responsibility on officials involved in the scam.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2011.
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