PIA losses are shrinking: minister tells NA

Ghulam Sarwar accepts former PM’s challenge to compare PTI govt’s performance with past govts


​ Our Correspondent January 31, 2020
A Pakistan International Airline carrier. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and the PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday asked the PTI led federal government to stop blaming past governments for the peoples woes and challenged it to hold a debate on its performance in the last one-and-a-half-years with performance of previous governments.

“The government should stop putting blame on others for its failures. You are already in power since August 2018. Let’s make a comparison of your performance with that of other governments,” Ashraf said, taking the floor on a calling attention notice.

The calling attention notice moved by him and some other PPP lawmakers said a contract for upgrading inflight entertainment (IFE) in eight Boeing 777 aircrafts of the national flight carrier – the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) – was awarded in a dubious manner.

Responding to the notice, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said he accepted Ashraf’s challenge and was ready to carry out a comparative review of performance of any sector or department.

Talking with reference to the IFE contract, he said the government had not made any payment to the winner of Rs700 million IFE contract after the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court and the Aviation Division.

The minister told the house that advertisement for tender of the contract was published on May 21, 2019. The tenders were opened on July 15, 2019 and the two companies – AAR Company and Avionics Company – took part in the bidding.

The AAR offered price of Rs2.786 million for the contract while Avionics offered Rs700 million.

He said after the bidding process no work order was given as the matter was taken up in the court. The Aviation Division had also held an inquiry into the matter and asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to refrain from further proceeding in the matter and hold an inquiry.

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The minister said the government would bring before the house findings of the inquiry report.

“When the present government took over the PIA had a deficit of Rs416 billion, four of its planes were grounded and it had defaulted on payments to the spare parts companies. Now we are trying to rectify the situation and PIA has earned more revenue, reduced its expenditure and curtailed the deficit."

He said 600 employees in the PIA were expelled on charges of corruption and fake degrees.

Khan said in the year 2017, the airline had a deficit of Rs32 billion The loss reduced to Rs29 billion in 2018 and went down to Rs11 billion in 2019. The PIA earned revenue of Rs146 billion in this year.

“I am ready to discuss and draw comparisons between the performance of the present and past governments,” he added.

Minister for Power Omar Ayub told the house that 15 per cent additional gas was added to the supply network this year. He denied that any person died in Abbottabad due to low gas pressure but said use of a gas stove was the cause of a recent tragedy in which at least 5 people died due to suffocation. Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who hails from Balochistan, also said residents of Quetta are facing gas shortages.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Friday introduced a bill in the National Assembly to further amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020) to increase sentences for money laundering offences.

He also introduced a bill to further amend the Post Office Cash Certificate Act, 1917 [The Post Office Cash Certificate (Amendment) Bill, 2020] and a bill to amend the Post Office National Savings Certificate Ordinance, 1944 [The Post Office National Savings Certificate (Amendment) Bill, 2020].

(With additional input from APP)

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