In a major blow to government’s efforts to auction 3G telecom licences, the Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC) of 3G has refused Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) selected companies for consultancy services due to alleged dubious selection process.
A meeting of ASC, headed by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here on Wednesday, could not shortlist companies for consultancy services and overseeing the process of auction of 3G spectrum licences due to “serious flaws in the selection process”, said an official after the meeting.
PTA shortlisted four parties out of 12 and gave them grades instead of marks, said the official. He further said that contrary to ASC’s direction that an evaluation committee should be formed to shortlist the parties, PTA itself shortlisted the parties.
“When I reached my office after last ASC meeting, my staff had already informed those parties which had submitted expressions of interest for consultancy but could not qualify,” the official quoted Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman as saying in the meeting.
When the PTA chairman was approached for comments on the outcome of the meeting, he refused to make any remarks, saying “he would talk later”.
The government wants to auction three licences of 3G spectrum to raise about a billion dollars. It strives to complete the process by June 30 in a bid to restrict the gap between its income and expenditure.
However, since the launch of the auction programme in January, the process has been marred by allegations of lack of transparency and competitiveness.
PTA has already postponed the original auction schedule and has not yet come up with a fresh one.
“We have not selected the parties and it has been done by PTA. We are not satisfied with the process,” said Naveed Qamar, Minister for Water and Power, who is a member of ASC.
Another cabinet member said that after Wednesday’s meeting, there is a possibility that ASC may break up as “no one wants to become part of a failed process and is willing to offer his neck for the sake of PTA”.
Another official said that on PTA’s list Kalba International Company is on top while the Ministry of Information Technology, which has shortlisted five companies on the basis of marks, Kalba stands at fifth position.
Similarly, Arthur D Little stands on PTA’s list at second position while the IT ministry has placed it on top of its list.
The IT ministry has given marks to its selected companies from 78 to 82.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.