IT Ministry asked not to award any contract to defaulting telecom firms -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

IT Ministry asked not to award any contract to defaulting telecom firms

TAHIR AMIN

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Friday directed the Ministry not to award any contract to those telecom companies who failed to clear government dues.

The committee also recommended not funding the companies who failed to clear the government dues.

IT Secretary Farooq Awan informed the committee that telecom companies clearance certificate was issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The Universal Service Fund (USF) prepares and approves different developmental telecom related projects and also provides funds for them. The award of contract to telecom operators was the responsibility of PTA.

He informed the committee that giving a contract to a government default company was the responsibility of the PTA not the USF. Therefore, PTA will be in a better position to explain the contract of Noshky-Mustang and Ziarat in Balochistan.

The committee expressed serious reservations over the role of PTA in regulating the telecom sector. Senator Zahid Khan told the committee that the current PTA Chairman was inefficient and he usually avoid to attend the committee meeting with a plea that he was going to attend a court case.

The committee expressed displeasure over award of the contract of a project to default company in Balochistan on May 31.

USF Chairman Riaz Ashraf Siddique told the committee that his organisation never violated the PPRA rules. Allowing or banning any telecom company in bidding process for any project is the responsibility of PTA.

He also informed the committee that NAB sent a letter to the USF with a view that it was an autonomous body and no one could stop its funds and it could also take independent decisions.

The committee was also briefed on Research and Development Fund Company, having 13 members Board with representation from fixed line, cellular and ISP industry, academia and government of Pakistan.

The company can initiate projects in seven fields, which are; next generation telecom networks, education, healthcare, agriculture, sustainable energy, security for all citizens and productivity and quality enhancement of products in SMEs.

However, the committee expressed serious reservation over its developmental projects, which are mainly initiated in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) while the provinces are neglected. Out of total 63 development projects, 36 were initiated in ICT till June 2012. The committee was informed that there was no uniform policy for initiating the projects across the country and usually awarding of contract is on personal likes and dislikes.

The committee also directed to call the former CEO of Research and Development Fund Company, who allegedly distributed developmental schemes on personal likes and dislikes.

The committee also directed the Ministry of Information Technology to provide details of various developmental schemes carried out in Malakand Division and Balochistan in the next meeting.

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