30 May 2023
This is the second time the PIA aircraft has been seized in Malaysia over a dues issue. The same aircraft was seized by the Kuala Lumpur airport authorities in 2021 on the same issue.
Pakistan, which is facing a severe cash crunch, has faced an embarrassing situation as its national carrier’s plane has been sized in Malaysia over non-payments.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777 aircraft has been ‘seized’ over a lease dispute at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport, ARY News reported on Tuesday.
The Beoing 777 was acquired by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on lease from Malaysia. The plane with the BMH registration number was stopped for the second time at the Kuala Lumpur airport over payment of dues worth $4 million.
The company ‘seized’ the PIA plane after receiving the order from a local court after payment of dues, the report said.
This is the second time the PIA aircraft has been seized in Malaysia over a dues issue. The same aircraft was seized by the Kuala Lumpur airport authorities in 2021 on the same issue. Later, the plane was released on diplomatic assurance about the payment of dues.
The seized plane was brought back to Pakistan on January 27 along with 173 passengers and crew members on board.
Pakistan is in the middle of a serious economic crisis as its forex reserves have dropped significantly, affecting various services abroad and hitting imports.
In February, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the foreign ministry to slash the number of missions abroad and reduce their offices, staff and initiate other measures to cut down expenditures of the debt-ridden nation by 15 per cent.
Last week, Pakistan’s Dawn reported that a public sector hospital in the Upper Kohistan district had suspended services citing a lack of funds as the reason. As per the report, a serious shortage of funding with 19 outsourced health centres facilities had started limiting their services, while the Dasu DHQ hospital was so strapped for cash that it had suspended all services.
Meanwhile, IMF’s mission chief for Pakistan Nathan Porter today said that the global lender was in touch with Islamabad in order to pave the way for a board meeting before a financing programme expires at the end of June.
A board meeting on a review of the programme would require a prior staff-level agreement, which in Pakistan’s case would unlock $1.1 billion in financing as part of a $6.5 billion IMF package. The staff-level agreement for the pending tranche of $1.1 billion has been delayed since November.
Porter said this engagement will focus on the restoration of foreign exchange proper market functioning, the passage of an FY24 budget consistent with programme goals, and adequate financing.
Last week, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar asserted that the country was not on the verge of a financial crisis and “will absolutely not default”.
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