IT ministry told to submit report within 15 days
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Friday directed the IT Ministry to submit an inquiry report on National
Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) project within 15 days.
The corporation is incurring an annual loss of nearly $8 million to the national exchequer.
The committee met with Chudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir in the chair here on Friday where NTC Project for Establishment of Keti BandarJiwani Optical Fiber-based transmission link along the Costal Highway was discussed.
Expressing annoyance over the issue, the committee pointed out that the project had been initiated in 2002 which could not finalise, causing approximately $8 million loss annually to the national exchequer.
The committee stated that IT Ministry failed to fix responsibility despite lapse of 9 years and directed that Ministry should submit its report to the committee within 15 days. The Chairman said that the ministry should fix responsibility, adding that the report would be sent to NAB for further action.
The Committee was informed that the project was to be completed in a year. Despite spending Rs37 million on the project, it is yet to become operational even after nine years. The inquiry committee of the Ministry had sought more time to fix the responsibility.
The committee also expressed dissatisfaction over non-appointment of NTC head, saying it was being run on ad hoc basis.
Secretary IT Farooq Awan apprised the committee that the ministry had advertised the post several times and sent its recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for approval. He said every time some objections had been raised and there was still no permanent NTC head and the same is the case for other attached departments.
The Chairman of the committee was of the view that no one was ready to provide details about the affairs of the if ministry and its attached departments. He said the government had privatized PTCL, but the department still had to clear $800 million dues to Pakistan government. He also said that the then Privatization Commission minister Hafeez Sheikh apprised legislators in secret briefing that the then President General Pervaiz Musharraf pressed him to fast-track PTCL’s privatisation.
Farooq Awan said that PTCL’s management had approached the government of India for releasing $33 million PTCL dues. Pakistan has to receive these funds (dues) from India, which are due since 1947. The Indian government shows willingness to pay the amount, but in the mean time the Indian government wrote a letter to m/o IT, Pakistan and wants to determine whether PTCL was the beneficiary of these funds or the government of Pakistan. The Secretary said that the government contacted Indian government and now the amount will be released to the government instead of PTCL.
The committee also discussed the issue of NTC’s Gateway Exchange and expressed dissatisfaction over the lenient attitude of the Ministry towards various important issues. The committee directed the Ministry to provide complete details of the case to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) within 15 days.
The Ministry informed the committee that most of the Gateway Exchange issues were in litigation and they could not proceed. However, the committee directed that if no court stopped them from proceeding on these issues in the light of FIA’s report, why were they not peroceeding.
The committee directed the Ministry to immediately appoint Chairman, Telecom Foundation and MD, Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and NTC.