ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has vowed to recover $800 million from United Arab Emirates telecom giant Etisalat on account of privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital on Wednesday, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT), Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that a meeting was held with Etisalat for recovery of outstanding $800 million.
“The government is committed to fulfilling all legal requirements for the recovery of the accrued amount,” he said. “Though both sides have cordial relations, but Pakistan will fight for its due rights,” Dr Maqbool added.
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The minister admitted that the country, especially, the freelancers were suffering due to the absence of an online payment system. “Due to lack of online payment gateway, the country is not receiving the IT sector-related benefits to the full,” he noted. The minister further said that talks on the subject were underway with 5-6 players and would be finalised soon.
As of June 30, 2019, IT and IT-enabled Services (ITeS) export remittances had jumped to $900 million compared to $800 million at a growth rate of 8.19 percent, whereas, Pakistan Software Exports Board (PSEB) estimates that total IT & ITeS exports were $4.1 billion.
A meeting was recently held with a team of Financial Transactions Control Systems (FTCS) of Sweden where matters related to payment gateway solutions in Pakistan were discussed.
The government has dropped Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP), a loss-making entity, from the privatisation list and is mulling to establish mobile phone handsets plants in collaboration with the private sector for its revival.
R replying to a question, the minister said that the government had formally dropped TIP from the privatisation list. He said that talks continued with a different Chinese company for establishing a mobile handset manufacturing plant.
The minister blamed the previous government for causing a delay in licence renewal of cellular mobile companies, while saying that operators were not informed on time in this regard. However, he said, the matter was in the court and would be resolved soon.
Replying to another question, the minister said that China had its own Facebook, Twitter and You Tube and if felt necessary, Pakistan would also think about it. He maintained that tele-density had been increased to 75-80 percent and around 160 million people were benefiting from mobile phones in the country in one or the other shape.
He further said that projects had been launched to provide voice & broadband services in areas of North/South Waziristan and far-flung areas of Balochistan.
The minister also announced to establish IT Regulatory Authority on the pattern of PMDC to regulate IT-related education and introduce a standard for IT graduates and certificates holders.
Around 25,000 IT graduates complete their education every year in the country. However, only 5,000-6,000 graduates get jobs due to ga ap in industry and academia linkages.
Secretary IT announced to establish a special economic zone for technological purposes in Islamabad.
The minister said that an international information technology exhibition/conference would be held next month in Karachi where 300 to 500 international IT experts would participate. The event would give young IT students an opportunity to showcase their talent and create job opportunities. ptcl
The minister said that Pakistan had nuclear weapons for its defence and not for sale. He said that India had become a fanatic Hindu country and was a threat to global peace.
(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on August 29th, 2019)