LAHORE - The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started digging into alleged Rs26 million irregularities in PIA Islamabad catering service, it is revealed.

The bureau has sought record of catering service and promotion of two officials from the airline management. NAB asked for details of promotion of PIA Islamabad food manager along with a copy of relevant promotions rules and procurement of Rs11 million food items. It also sought details of procurement of Rs15 million food by the store purchase officer.

Earlier, PIA chief daily operating officer had issued show-cause notice to the officials. The notice reads: “You are responsible for violation of Corporation Rules like misuse of PIA resources, excess procurement and delivering meals to various officers without any demand in written.”

Sources in the airline said the meals were served at PM secretariat and PIA chairman secretariat.  The PIA security department kept mum over the issue.  Blunders like catering department of Islamabad and boarding of a private person in PIA catering van and his access to a sensitive area of airport went unchecked.

Reportedly, quarters concerned informed the security general manager that that on June 12 that a serious issues came to spotlight when a ‘suspicious person’ climbed the closed gate near old Rangers Checkpoint and sneak into the catering van in courtyard outside loading bay. Ultimately the man was checked by ASF authorities at ASF gate and PIA security remained unmoved.

In the Special Audit Report on the accounts of PIA for the year 2008 to 2017 out of 39 audit paras 30 were regarding irregular appointments of officers working on senior slots. It was also pointed out that the appointment of security general manager was on a contract basis that cost Rs33.6 million.

When contacted, spokesman for PIA Mashhud Tajwar said show cause notice had been issued to officials concerned in catering division Islamabad and they had submitted reply.  “I do not know whether their reply was satisfactory or not,” he said.

Earlier, the audit department had pointed out Rs11 million embezzlement in procurement of catering items for VVIP and VIP flights by PIA Food Service Division. 

Procurement was made neither through annual contract nor quotations from the approved vendors. Sources in the airline said reported Islamabad Flight Kitchen, with prior approval of the Food Services Division manager, made direct procurement and raised 148 Internal Requisitions (IR) costing Rs11 million.

The Islamabad Flight Kitchen provides catering services and meal arrangement for VIP flights (PAF) and VVIP flights (chartered). Moreover, it provides catering services to local as well as international airline carriers like Air China in case of technical grounding of aircraft. The auditors said the Procurement Division entered into an agreement with the Air China and per recipe rates were agreed among the parties as per provided menu.

They said: “Meal menu of the airlines and flights require specific items, ingredients which are not in use of the Flight Kitchen. Thus, the procurement of specific items is made on an ad hoc basis from four prequalified vendors among existing approved vendors at various rates. The Flight Kitchen generated revenue of Rs 95 million and Rs 76 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively through catering services to outsiders in eight months till August.”