CEO of ICT R&D Fund Resigns on Meddling by IT Ministry

ISLAMABAD (SPECIAL REPORT)

In a surprise move, CEO of ICT R&D Fund, just few months after his appointment was approved by the Prime Minister, has submitted his resignation to the Board of Directors (BOD) citing excessive interference and meddling by the Secretary, Ministry of IT (MOIT), Farooq Ahmad Awan. Sources revealed that since the incumbent Secretary took over the troubled MOIT few months back, the Ministry has been trying to dominate over the organizations under its administrative control and the Secretary even served a Show Cause Notice to CEO of Fund on a petty issue where the CEO did not attend an official meeting in the constituency of the Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, who happens to be the Minister Incharge for MOIT. In his email addressed to the BOD, Dr. Syed Aun Abbas, CEO of ICT R&D Fund, stated “this week, I received a letter from MOIT, directing that all official meetings be preapproved by the Secretary IT and reports be provided to the Secretary IT of those meetings. If above direction is accepted, role of CEO of Fund would merely be that of an administrator who takes instructions from Secretary IT on all implementation decisions”. IT and telecom industry experts blame apathy of the Government on neglecting the best performing private sector even in the economic downturn but many organizations of MOIT including Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) do not have full time chief executives. The ICT R&D Fund is funded by the mandatory contributions of the telecom operators and has billions of rupees at its disposal to promote research and development (R&D) in information and communication technologies (ICT). Sources say that cash starved Government has been eyeing to capture more than 30 billion rupees available in the accounts of ICT R&D Fund and Universal Service Fund (USF), both funded by contributions of cellular and fixed line telecom operators of the country. Telecom operators have been critical of such attempts which according to them, would by a violation of Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996 and distry cofidnce of foreign investors who have invested billions of dollars in cellular telecom networks in Pakistan, making country as fastest growing cellular connections in the world. The CEO went on to say in his email “I have concluded that I will not be able to continue servicing the Fund for my whole tenure anymore and tender my resignation in front of the board for acceptance”. Sources maintain that the resignation of Dr. Abbas would be immediately accepted by the Secretary MOIT who also happens to be the Chairman of Board of Directors of Fund, as the Secretary was planning to fire the CEO on alleged charges of insubordination. ICT R&D Fund is incorporated as a Guarantee Limited Company having an independent BOD as its apex decision making body. In 2010, the then Minister of IT, Sardar Latif Khosa, the incumbent Governor of Punjab, fired six independent directors from the BOD of Fund who resisted his move to appoint his son-in-law as the CEO of the Fund. The Directors were later reinstated by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a historic judgment.

 

 

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