NA committee on information technology discussed USF and NTC Optical Fibre Cable Coastal Highway Issues

Meeting of sub-committee of National Assembly’s committee on information technology

Telecom operators owe Rs. 26 billion to USF: CEO Riaz Asher Siddiqui 
Examined a departmental inquiry report on project of NTC for establishment of optical fiber along the Coastal Highway

Islamabad (Thursday, November 01, 2012) – Telecom operators owed Rs26 billion to Universal Service Fund (USF) for Access Promotion Contribution (APC), the fund s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Riaz Asher Siddiqui said on Thursday.

Gawadar Jiwani Optical Fibre Cable Project Still Pending by NTC

He was briefing the sub-committee of the National Assembly s committee on information technology that met with Sardar Muhammad Shafqat Hayat Khan in the chair here on Thursday.

As per Section 3 (4) of the USF rules, 2007, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shall monitor and enforce the obligations of the relevant licensees to make the USF contributions in a timely and proper manner. Therefore, PTA acts as an agent on behalf of the Ministry of Information Technology (IT) to book receivables and enforce the payment of contributions due from the operators.

Currently, outstanding amounts against PTCL in connection with APC was Rs183.39 million, Worldcall Rs1.67 billion, Red Tone Rs3.96 billion, ADG LDI Rs383.93 million, Wi Tribe Rs0.35 million Wateen Rs1.92 billion and Telenor Rs5.47 million.

According to documents provided to the committee, the main reason for the increase in amount of receivables, especially in the case of APC, was because most of the contributors had gone to courts regarding APC contributions, challenging the APC regime. PTA, being the main defendant of all allegations,  is now in litigation against such operators .

The committee also recommended the CEO of USF to give a report detailing outstanding amount owed by fixed line operators as well as cellular operators, besides showing how much money had been spent under the USF.

The committee also examined a departmental inquiry report on the project of National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC)  establishment of optical fiber along the Coastal Highway .

According to the fact-finding committee s report on the coastal fiber project, it was partially operational between Karachi and Gwadar, while the Optical Fibre Cable Gwadar-Jiwani section, which had been laid by NTC, was non-operational.

The Link is suffering from frequent and prolonged outages. The project depicts lack of planning, project management failure and lack of the management intent, responsible for the execution of the project.

The committee was informed that NTC purchased land for its office building in Gwadar and paid Rs3.6 million. However, land has not yet been transferred to NTC.

The inquiry report was submitted by NTC s Director General, Finance, Talat Altaf.

She said that land had been purchased by the NTC in Gwadar at different rates and millions of rupees had been spent in this regard, incurring huge losses to the national exchequer.

She said that  this unjustified lavish spending  caused the expenditure in relevant heads to exceed by Rs35 million. Huge variations in price were observed in the purchase of land per sq. ft/per sq. yard as was evident in the report, committee observed.

Talat Altaf said that large sums of money was wasted in acquiring lands. She said that system designing and project planning related to technical aspects had serious issues, which left the link vulnerable to damages.

The committee expressed displeasure over the status of lands in Gwadar and unjustified land aquisitions, especially the acquiring of lands at two different places in the same city, was  by no means rational .

The Committee asked the member, legal, of the ministry of IT to submit a report.

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