NA body directs IT Ministry to submit inquiry report on NTC
Orders to make appointments for heads of NTC, PSEB, TF
Ministry of IT secretary says Pakistan to receive $33m from India soon
Islamabad (June 29, 2012) – National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) directed the IT Ministry to submit an inquiry report on National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) project within 15 days, which is causing a huge loss to the national exchequer.
NA committee met with Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir in the chair here on Friday where NTC Project for Establishment of Optical Fibre based transmission link between Keti Bandar to Jiwani along the costal highways was discussed.
The committee expressed serious annoyance over the issue and pointed out that the project was initiated in 2002, which could not be finalised and causing approximately $8 million loss annually to the national exchequer.
The committee stated that the IT Ministry failed to fix responsibility despite a lapse of nine years and directed that the ministry may finalise its inquiry report on the said issue at the earliest and submit it to the committee within 15 days of the meeting. The chairman said the ministry should fix the responsibility and the committee will send the report to National Accountability Bureau for future line of action.
The committee was informed that the project was due to complete in one year however Rs 37 million was spent on the project but it is yet to be brought in complete operation. The project is partially operational. The inquiry committee of the ministry constituted on the directives of the standing committee sought time to fix the responsibility, on which the committee expressed strong displeasure and directed to submit the report within 15 days fixing the responsibility.
The committee also expressed dissatisfaction over non-appointment of head of NTC and running it on ad hoc basis. The Ministry of IT Secretary Farooq Awan apprised the committee that the ministry had advertised the post several times and sent its recommendation to the Prime Minister Secretariat for approval. He said some objections were raised and a permanent head for NTC was not appointed and same is the case with other attached departments heads.
The chairman of the committee was of the view that no one is ready to provide details over the affairs of Ministry of IT and its attached departments. He said the Government has privatised the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) but still the department has to clear $800 million dues to the Pakistan government. He also informed the committee that the then Privatisation Commission Minister Hafeez Sheikh apprised the legislator in-camera briefing that the then President Gen Parvez Musharraf pressurised him to privatise the PTCL quickly.
Awan also informed the committee that the management of PTCL approached the government of India for releasing some dues worth $33 million to PTCL. Pakistan will receive these funds (dues) from India, which were due since 1947. The Indian government showed willingness to pay the amount but in the mean time the Indian government wrote a letter to Ministry of IT and wanted to clear that PTCL was the only beneficiary of these amounts or the government of Pakistan. The secretary further informed that later on the government of Pakistan contacted the Indian government and now the amount will be released to the government of Pakistan instead of the PTCL.
The committee also discussed the issue of NTC Gateway Exchange and expressed strong dissatisfaction over the lenient attitude of the ministry towards their important issues. The committee directed that the ministry may provide complete details of the said case referred to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) within 15 days of the meeting.
The ministry informed the committee that most of the Gateway Exchange issues are in litigation and they could not proceed, however the committee directed that if no court has stopped them from proceeding on these issues in the light of FIA report, why they are not conducting further procedure.
The committee further observed that most of the departments are running without proper heads. The committee further directed that the ministry may avoid giving additional or acting charges of key posts of their departments and appoint chairman, Telecom Foundation and managing director, Pakistan Software Export Board and NTC immediately for smooth functioning of their departments.
(Published in DailyTimes Lahore on June 30, 2012)