The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday referred mega financial irregularities in the contract and construction of Passengers Baggage Terminal at the New Islamabad Airport to the NAB, directing it to complete the inquiry and submit a report to it in three months.
The PIA management also submitted a report on the foreign tours of its top officials on which Rs18 million was spent.
Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah chaired the committee meeting. The committee examined the audit paras related to the Aviation Division for the year 2016-17. Referring the matter of Passengers Baggage Terminal to the National Accountability Bureau, Khursheed said it was the first case that was being referred to the new Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.
Examining irregularities in the case, he questioned how the PC-1 cost of Rs3.9 billion had gone up to Rs6.5 billion.
Audit officials told the committee that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had issued the tender letter without taking license from the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and after the issuance of tender, the application was filed for licences, causing a delay of three years.
“The project cost increased due to the three-year delay,” the committee was told. The PEC officials told the committee that no department could issue a tender without taking a licence. Senator Azam Swati observed that all the rules were violated to favour just one company.
Khursheed Shah observed that it was evident from the audit reports that Rs1.5 billion had been embezzled in the project. He said out of the three companies which had submitted tenders, two were removed from the competition after being lured into some other contracts.
Earlier, the committee also ordered the audit of catering tenders, recruitment of consultants and online ticketing by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) over the last three years.
Secretary Aviation Division told the committee that the PIA had paid Rs18 million for its employees’ foreign visits during the last one year.
The committee was told that the ex-CEO of the airlines had spent 99 days outside Pakistan costing Rs6 million. Director Purchase PIA spent 50 days outside Pakistan spending Rs2.4 million while Director IT spent 33 days outside Pakistan spending Rs1.7 million. The committee was told that the figures exclude the ticket prices. The total amount of foreign visits would be Rs36 million if ticket charges are included in the cost.
Talking to newsmen after the PAC meeting, Khursheed Shah said the PAC had referred the first case to the new chairman NAB.
He said there was no doubting the fact that the PIA was responsible for its financial crisis. He dismissed the view that over-employment had compounded the company losses and said the top brass of PIA was receiving fat salaries.
“The top officers receive 4 per cent, whereas the lower cadre employees only get 5pc of the total annual expenditure of the national airline,” he said, adding that this was the most important issue as innocent people were held accountable for the misdeeds of some influential people and the PAC had now decided to hold the corrupt elements accountable.