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ISLAMABAD: The annual losses of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been reduced to 34.64 billion rupees in 2020 -from 67.32 billion in 2018- while the national airline has seven properties abroad, out of which, only two have been rented out and earning monthly profits.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan shared these details in the maiden sitting of the 314th Senate session on Friday. He was responding to queries from senators in the question hour.

According to the details shared by the minister, PIA's annual loss in the year 2018 was recorded at Rs67.32 billion that went down to Rs52.60 billion in 2019 and Rs34.64 billion in the year 2020.

In addition, the PIA has seven properties abroad; three properties in Amsterdam and one property each in New Delhi, Mumbai, New York and Tashkent, the details submitted by the aviation minister in Senate suggest.

Of these properties, PIA booking office in New Delhi and accounts manager's residence in Mumbai have been recently vacated and lying vacant presently, the details suggest. "No action taken due to hostile geo-political situation with neighbour," the minister stated.

The PIA properties in Amsterdam; a manager's residence, an apartment and a town office, were currently under renovation and they would be rented out once the renovation completed, the minister said.

The airline's property in New York; the residence of general manager, was renovated and rented out at $5,700 per month in March last year but that rent was reduced to $5,500 from August last year due to Covid-19, the minister said. The PIA sales office in Tashkent was renovated and rented out at $1,750 in January last year, he added.

In written reply to a query, the Establishment Division (ED) informed the Senate that the officers of PAS (Pakistan Administrative Service) are posted as chief secretaries of the four provinces by Establishment Division in consultation with the provinces in terms of Rule 15 (iv) of the Civil Service of Pakistan (Composition and Cadre) Rules 1954 and relevant provisions of Inter-Provincial Agreement of 1993 reached between federal and provincial governments.

The transfer/posting of chief secretary in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is made in terms of relevant provisions of Karachi Agreement 1949 while transfer/posting of chief secretary Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is made by the prime minister, the ED said.

Under the existing framework, officers of National Assembly, Senate, other constitutional bodies and services other than PAS cannot be posted as chief secretaries of the four provinces, AJK and GB, the ED reply said.

State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, through a written reply, informed the Senate that 1.01 billion plants were planted under Billion Tree Tsunami Project and Third Party Monitoring Consortium of the United Nations and other bodies indicated that success/survival rate of these plants was between 75 to 90 per cent.

Under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project, she said, 6.069 million trees have been planted/ distributed in Balochistan, 408.39 million trees have been planted/ regenerated/ distributed in Sindh while 68.675 million of trees have been planted/ regenerated/ distributed in Punjab.

Later, speaking at the Senate sitting, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said, Pakistan is paying the price of its "bold and categorical refusal" to give military bases to the United States.

"Certain elements wished to unleash civil war in Afghanistan. They have been disappointed to see peace in Afghanistan. The PM has made it categorically clear that we would be partners in peace, not partners in war. We will not become hired killers. And such a principled stance has consequences. There are elements hatching conspiracies against Pakistan. The totally uncalled for cancellation of New Zealand cricket team's tour is part of this heinous conspiracy," he said.

Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem said internet (i-voting) is the due right of overseas Pakistanis and government would "leave no stone unturned" to ensure that overseas Pakistanis are allowed to vote through i-voting in general elections.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said federal government's Ehsaas Programme is "totally impartial and transparent."

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said, "The speeches the ministers gave today have painted a bizarrely inaccurate picture of the unprecedented harsh ground reality. We are facing a terrible economic crisis in real terms on the ground with spiralling food prices. There is no respite in sight for the average citizen whose disposable income has shrunk alarmingly."

Meanwhile, Ali Muhammad Khan, on behalf of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, laid before the Senate the second and third quarterly reports of the Board of Directors of the State Bank of Pakistan on the state of Pakistan's economy for financial fear 2020- 2021, and annual report of the National Economic Council (NEC) for FY 2019-20. The Senate would meet again on Monday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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