PTCL unable to pay Rs40bn dues to pensioners – Daily Dawn News Report
Published on 6th January 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology on Thursday said the payment of Rs40 billion outstanding pensions to the former Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) employees would bankrupt the entity.
“We cannot ask the PTCL to pay such a huge amount, which is almost half the worth of the telecom company,” Secretary Ministry of Information Technology Rizwan Bashir told the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology.
The amount has accumulated as arrears of the 20pc increase the previous government announced in the pension of the employees. Time and again the Senate committee has directed the ministry to pay the amount to the over 40,000 former employees of the PTCL.
Committee chairman Shahi Syed during a meeting on Thursday again asked about the delay in paying the dues.
“The government must think about the welfare of the retired employees and their widows instead of watching the interests of the company. The money means a huge difference in the lives of the poor.”
Mr Syed also quoted Supreme Court directions to pay the outstanding pensions to the former employees of the PTCL.
February 2016, the apex court had declared that retired employees of PTCL were entitled to the increase in pensions.
However, the ministry challenged the decision and the hearing of the matter continues.
The ministry argued that the PTCL would collapse after paying more than Rs40 billion to pensioners, especially with the company’s market share already going down.
The committee declined the request from Secretary Bashir to discuss the financial matters of the PTCL in an in-camera meeting.
Senators Rehman Malik and Rubina Khalid argued against keeping affairs pertaining to the PTCL secret.
“PTCL is more a Pakistani company over 70pc ownership and the pension to be paid is public money,” said PPPP Senator Rubina Khalid.
Secretary Bashir asked for some time to share the exact amount of outstanding dues owed to the pensioners.
Replying to a senator’s question, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) expressed its ignorance about the number of scratch cards the mobile phone companies sold to their subscribers, and hence the impact of the revenue collection or loss.
The mobile phone service providers charge the consumers 35pc tax on every Rs100 scratch card.
Senator Rubina Khalid had asked how many scratch cards were sold by the mobile companies and whether the deducted amount of tax was deposited in government accounts or not.
Committee chairman Shahi Syed said no satisfactory answer was given by the FBR and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to the committee in the last two years.
However, the FBR said the mobile companies had been asked to provide the details.
“A mechanism has been evolved under which the cellular companies will share real time information with the FBR to analyse the data of the cards sold. In three months, the FBR will have complete information for the committee,” said a senior official.