Islamabad - The Civil Aviation Authority has said the airlines of several foreign countries, including the United States and India, owe billions of rupees to the CAA. Officials yesterday told the Public Accounts Committee that the foreign airlines have yet to pay Rs 15 billon, including Rs18 million by the US Air Force. The US had to pay these dues in the heads of using Pakistan airspace, rent, electricity bill and aeronautical revenue during the war in Afghanistan.

According to the CAA, the US has not cleared the arrears from 2002 to 2003 and Pakistani authorities have repeatedly raised the issue with the American embassy in Islamabad but in vain. The US declared war on Taliban in Afghanistan in the 2001 following Sept 11 attacks. Pakistan’s airbases were used by the US and its allies during the Afghan war. US and Nato forces used Shamsi, Shahbaz and Tarbela Ghazi Airbases during the war. However, the airbases were cleared after the martyrdom of Pakistani soldiers in Nato air attack on Salala checkpost near the Afghan border.

The attack drew Islamabad’s ire and prompted Pakistani authorities to halt logistics’ supplies to the US-led forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nato vehicles were allowed to pass through Pakistan after a year when the US formally tendered an apology to Pakistan for the attack.  CAA Secretary Irfan Elahi told the Public Accounts Committee that in the head of airport tax, Indian Airlines, Russian Airlines and local airlines owed heavily to CAA, but the authority yet to receive Rs 8 billion from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Irfan Elahi told the committee that the Civil Aviation Authority had recovered Rs4 billion and efforts to recover the rest was underway. Reviewing the audit objection of CAA, PIA officials informed that PIA has been running into deficit for the last 16 years. PIA’s yearly deficit is over Rs20 billion. “The airline is mainly incurring a loss of billions of rupees as it has to pay loans with interest,” PIA officials briefed the PAC, while reviewing audit objections related CAA. The country’s national flag carrier has 38 aircraft in its fleet and 417 pilots are serving in the organisation. The sitting capacity of these has touched 7,000, said the PIA officials, giving briefing about PIA.

The audit officials pointed out that different international and national airlines including PIA have to pay around Rs15 billion to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They said this huge amount is due for the last many years. Expressing displeasure over the figures shared by CAA, PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah ordered the Civil Aviation Division to come again in the meeting with full preparation tomorrow. PkMAP chief Mehmood Achakzai, a committee member, proposed that some of the top officials should be sacked for their negligence towards duties as it was of nearly Rs15 billion.

Responding to the concerns raised by PAC members, Secretary CAA Irfan Elahi also informed the committee that their security has not been forfeited. “The CAA is also unaware that their dues will be paid after the privatisation of the PIA,” he said, adding the that CAA was unaware about the strategy of the government in this regard.

NOLANG DAM DEFERRED

FOR WANT OF FUNDS

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was yesterday informed that Nolang Dam (Balochistan) project has been deferred till the availability of new funding source. The PAC, chaired by Syed Khursheed Shah, reviewed the audit objections related to the Board of Investment (BOI) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). “The Nolang Dam (Balochistan) project has been deferred till the availability of a new funding source,” said Secretary Planning and Development Yousad Nassem Khokar, sharing details of the project. The committee chairman expressed his displeasure and asked to share the details of deferred development programmes with the committee. He also sought further reasons for deferring the Nolang Dam project.