ECC approves Rs20b for PIA


ISLAMABAD – The Economic Coordination Committee on Friday approved an additional guarantee of Rs20 billion for the Pakistan International Airlines for overhauling of aircraft engines.

The ECC chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also directed the Aviation Division and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the financing support approved by the ECC was strictly utilized only for the defined purpose.

The PIA chief executive officer also briefed the meeting about the progress made so far in the efforts to turnaround the national flag carrier and to reduce its losses.  The federal government is continuously giving bailout packages to the national flag carrier to bring it out of the severe financial constraints. The PIA has suffered a loss of Rs360.39 billion during the last 17 years.

The last time the national flag carrier earned a profit was in 2002.  Farrukh Saleem, an economic and financial analyst who had been appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court, has told the apex court that the PIA financial losses in 10 years were the result of political interference, leakage and a bad CAA policy.

The managing directors, chief executive officers and the advisers were appointed on the basis of political consideration.

The political parties have influence in unions of pilots, engineers, technical staff and officers, he informed the top court.

The national flag carrier suffered a loss of Rs36.13 billion in 2008, Rs4.94 billion in 2009, Rs20.79 billion in 2010 and Rs26.77 billion in 2011. The balance sheet further revealed that the national flag carrier suffered a loss of Rs30.59 billion in 2012, Rs44.32 billion in 2013 and Rs31.74 billion in 2014.

Likewise, the national airline suffered a loss of Rs32.53 billion in 2015, Rs45.38 billion in 2016 and Rs44.11 billion in 2017. The incumbent government had initiated the process of privatising the PIA but it could not complete it due to the strong resistance from opposition parties and workers’ union.

The ECC also approved the exemption of regulatory duties on import of fresh fruit, vegetables and dry-fruit from Afghanistan which was announced by the prime minister during his visit to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is unhappy with Pakistan for the imposition of the regulatory duty on its products, especially fresh and dry fruits.

The meeting also approved the supply of 35,000 metric tonnes of wheat from PASSCO to the World Food Programme for distribution amongst the Temporary Displaced Persons of FATA.

The ECC approved a proposal for introducing necessary amendments in the OGRA Ordinance 2002 to cover the entire LNG/RLNG supply chain in the OGRA regulatory framework and to remove anomalies in the dispatch, receipt and billing of RLNG volumes.