PTA begins auction process of 3G licences
ISLAMABAD: The process for the auction of 3G cellular licences has begun, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told the apex court on Tuesday.
The PTA Director Technical told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry which heard a petition seeking direction for auction of 3G cellular licence, utilization of USF funds, that seven companies had given bids for technical consultants.
He said the bidders were from Germany, USA and UK, adding after finalising the name of technical consultant, which would be completed by November 21, the financial bids process would be finalised by November 23. After that there would be auction of the 3G licences.
Earlier, Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Imran, appearing on behalf of the federation, stated before the court that in June this year the federal government had amended the USF rules on the basis of which the USF funds were transferred to consolidated funds of the government of Pakistan. He said the funds would be available to PTA whenever the Authority would require them.
The court expressing concern over it said the USF funds were the contribution of the telecom service providers so whenever the government ask the company to set up their system in far flung areas like Makran or Turbat, it would provide money to the companies from this funds (USF).
The bench observed that transferring the USF funds to consolidated funds was not lawful. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said: “Prima facie this is misappropriation and if some government functionary does this, a case could be registered against him under Section 420 of Pakistan Penal Code.”
Kamran, accountant USF, informed the court that before transferring the funds they used to keep them in the government security funds and were getting 11 to 12 per cent interest (Rs7.5 billion per annum) on it. He said the ministry of finance through a memorandum had directed the USF to transfer the funds to consolidated funds. Justice Jawwad said the government was causing loss of Rs7.5 billion to USF by transferring the money to consolidated funds.
The hearing was adjourned for 10 days.