ISLAMABAD - The sordid tale of corruption in PIA continues with signing of an agreement to purchase five 777 Boeing aircraft for 1.5 billion dollars, said Shafqat Mahmood, secretary information, Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf.

The entire process, he said, has been correctly questioned by Transparency International, which believes that 500 million dollars kickback is involved. According to it, an exorbitant price of 300 million dollars has been agreed upon. This is about 50 per cent higher than the market price.

Corruption by the PIA management with the support of its political masters, according to Shafqat Mahmood, is also visible from the fact that this deal was never advertised and PPRA rules were not followed. Also, inordinate hurry in finalising the purchase was nakedly visible. In 21 short days, the deal was finalised which is unprecedented in aviation history. Furthermore, he said, purchase of new aircraft has to go through a lengthy process of approvals that includes working out details of configuration, testing under extreme weather conditions particularly summer temperatures in Pakistan, and compatibility with the existing repair and maintenance facilities.

In particular, special attention has to be paid issues like conformity with the existing fleet to minimise overhead costs. None of this has been gone through, he said, which in itself is a testimony to corruption.

The conclusion is obvious, he said. This deal was rushed through to take huge kickbacks. It is sad that the leadership of a country whose economy is in serious downturn, whose revenues are so low that it is effectively bankrupt, does not take pity on this poor nation and continues in its merry corrupt ways.