National Assembly body told several complications hinder auction for 3G licences -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

National Assembly body told several complications hinder auction for 3G licences

By: Imaduddin

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat was informed on Friday that it was a matter of concern that a country like Afghanistan uses 3G-technology, while several complications hinder the auction of 3G spectrum licences in Pakistan.

However, Chairman PTA Farooq Awan assured the committee that the PTA would finalize the auction of 3G licenses by end of this year. For the last few years, the government reflects the amount to be received through auction of 3G in the annual budget, but the transaction has not materialized yet. Through media and at other forums, heated debates were carried out over minimum price determination for 3G license auction, set by the PTA. The government is unable to decide either PTA has to set minimum price for 3G license or a private consultant has to fix the price.

Chairman PTA informed the committee that the authority wanted a monitoring committee, comprising representatives of media and civil society, having complete access to information. He added that 3G process will be completed in the current year. On the directives of the Prime Minister, the Authority has re-initiated the process, he added. In this regard, advertisement will be given in next two weeks and consultant of international repute will be hired in next 55 days. To ensure transparency in the 3G auction licenses’ auction process, an independent team comprising media and civil society will be constituted, which will monitor the whole process.

About gray traffic, the committee was told that $25 million loss was suffered by the national exchequer annually. The PTA officials informed the committee that a total of 71 grey traffic cases were forwarded to FIA during last three years, whereas in 45 cases successful raid was conducted while 26 cases are in process. Out of this, 14 cases have been decided, 12 persons convicted while Rs 21.717 million fines was imposed on them. PTA has confronting several court cases in Lahore, Sindh, Peshawar, Balochistan high courts and in Supreme Courts. The companies register cases against PTA whenever the authorities want to implement certain decisions.

During his presentation, Chairman PTA said National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) has about one lakh connections. Fourteen licenses have so far been issued to Long Distance International operators where one operator license was terminated when it was defaulted.

He further informed the committee that due to delay in auction of 3G license, India recently overtake Pakistan in Teledensity. Telecom sector contributed over Rs109 billion to the national exchequer in shape of taxes during 2011-12 against Rs 105 billion in 2010-11.

PTA chairman further informed that Rs 200 million have so far been recovered from defaulters during 2011-12 against over Rs 250 million outstanding dues. However, a decline has occurred in recovery as most of the defaulters went to courts and took stay order. The committee further informed that the government has reinstated Member Finance PTA while inquiry against him in embezzlement is still underway.

The committee was informed that Member (Finance) PTA was restored, who was earlier suspended by former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in April 2011, for causing losses of over Rs 5 billion to PTA and government by allegedly extending undue favours to various companies.

Chairman PTA also informed the committee that due to tough competition in telecom sector of Pakistan, the rates are lower in the region. About quality services, the chairman said whenever the PTA wants to take action against companies over poor performance, they got stay order from courts

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