‘Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to auction 3G technology in 4 months’
By Tanveer Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Senate’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat was informed on Monday that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has planned to auction 3G technology in next four months following a delay of two years, which resulted in losing an opportunity to earn Rs 20 billion annually.
The committee’s meeting chaired by Senator Kalsoom Parveen showed serious concern over the delay in the auction of 3G technology, which PTA estimates can bring $800 million investment. PTA Chairman Farooq Awan told the committee members that basic hurdle in auction of 3G was caused because of objections raised by Auction Supervisory Committee over the process adopted earlier.
However, he said now all the modalities have been almost completed and PTA is going to advertise it in the local and international media in the next few days.
The PTA chief said that if the technology would have been auctioned earlier, it would have fetched billions of rupees, which could have been utilised for plugging the fiscal deficit of the country.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha objected to the presence of petroleum minister in the Auction Supervisory Committee saying that his presence in the committee was not necessary for auctioning of 3G technology. On Universal Service Fund (USF), the committee sought details of the funds and their audit, upon which the concerned authorities could not give a satisfactory reply.
USF officials told the committee that the organisation has Rs 42 billion under its belt presently.
Parveen said that these funds are being used on advertisements instead of providing telecom services in the remote areas of the country. The committee also showed concern over the reinstatement of Nasarullah Karim Ghaznavi as member finance in PTA, pointing out that it didn’t meet the required criteria.
Also, the committee said that the person was removed on charges of corruption and his reinstatement without clarifying himself from these charges. The committee directed immediate removal of member finance of PTA and said that he should not be appointed on the said post as he has also crossed the age limit prescribed for such post under PTA rules.
The issue of non-payment of Rs 47 billion tax by cellular companies also surfaced in the committee and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials sought the committee’s help to recover this amount. However, the committee raised the objection of waiver given to these companies in tax by FBR and put up the matter for further probe. Officials of the PTA and FBR promised to give their joint statement on this issue in the next meeting. The committee members also expressed concern over the night packages of the cellular companies, which they said are spoiling young generations. The PTA chairman also threw his weight behind the observation of the committee on night package by suggesting that such nigh packages should not be allowed.