KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is contemplating revamping its medical facility for its employees in a bid to contain what it says “around Rs100 million a month corruption under medical facility”, it was learnt here on Saturday.

The revamping of medical facilities may be in the form of introduction of a health insurance scheme for PIA employees.

According to details, PIA provides medical coverage to its employees from PIA doctors, hospitals, laboratories, clinics and/or from outside specialists, expensive private hospitals and establishments through approved arrangements made by PIA medical division both at domestic and international stations. All permanent employees of PIA are fully covered without any upper cap as far as the medical benefits are concerned. These include hospitalization, OPD visits, consultations, medicines, labs, etc., that cost the national flag carrier Rs3.28 billion annually on an average.

The airline is optimistic about bringing the medical expenditure to manageable level since it has already run an exercise in which it successfully reduced its medical expenditures by around Rs660 million — from Rs3.28 billion to Rs2.62 billion — in 2019 due to some stringent anti-corruption measures.

Meanwhile, a PIA document recommending revamping of the medical system and highlighting the factors behind those recommendations, the prime factor being saving the airline from alleged internal corruption, disclosed that it had detected instances of massive corruption in the areas of purchase of medicines, lab kits, forged medical bills, etc., in the last nine years.

In one of those instances, it said that all the equipment in PIA labs was serviceable, and yet a majority of cases were referred to outside facilities allegedly in connivance with the doctors, who, the document alleged, earned from Rs0.5 million to Rs0.7 million a month through “such illicit activities”.

The document further alleged that “past managements, hospitals, doctors, unions, chemists and employees were hand in glove, facilitating each other in misusing PIA medical facility”.

The document said that PIA, in light of what has transpired in the past, was now contemplating different options about revamping of medical facilities, including introduction of health insurance and monetization up to a maximum of 10 percent of the basic salary of employees to cover the OPD expenditures which are currently being met through reimbursements.

Sources in PIA “confirmed” that PIA medical facility was “being badly misused with no fear of accountability”, and hence the airline reimbursed hundreds of thousands of rupees against forged medical bills during this period.

Furthermore, the document proposed to the PIA top-guns to fix all those loopholes and make all the authorities concerned accountable through a proper mechanism and “close all doors of corruption as the airline burnt out a hefty amount of Rs32.19 billion against medical expenditures during 2010 to 2019”.

Published in Business Recorder, Dec 27, 2020