TELECOM POLICY could cause multi million dollars losses to national exchequer.


Telecom operators with long distance and international (LDI) dialing licence on Friday criticised the new telecom policy draft, saying it could cause multimillion dollars losses to national exchequer.

The policy proposed a fixed fee for the issuance of LDI licences, at par with the level of 2003.

The licence holders, in a statement, said there has been no provisioning of checks and balance on the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the implementation of proposed telecom policy in true letter and sprite.

The government has sought proposals and comments to finalise the policy.

In 2003, licence price for local loop was set at $10,000 per telecom region and a LDI icence fee was fixed at $500,000 for entire Pakistan. The overwhelming response in 2004 indicated that these licences were offered on attractive terms. Four major LDI licences were resold to companies like Oman Tel, Qatar Telecom, ADG and Quantum Global Networks. The estimated price for one LDI licence, excluding network investment, was believed to be considered between thee to five million dollars for all four deals.

Now, the government is offering both these licences on same old price of $500,000 whereas it can be sold on a much higher price specially after witnessing trade of LDI licence on such high rate, said the statement.

The government and PTA are in no position to establish the exact market value of these categories of licences.

LDI operators said they advised the government in order to establish right value of these licences, initially, PTA should conduct auction for award of one licence in each category. Thereafter, whatever price is established, further licences should be awarded to any interested party on the same price. However, it seems the ministry of information and technology is in no mood to listen to this fair advice, which will lead to great lose to exchequer, they said.

Another criticism on the previous telecom policy was a missing link about the timelines for implementing the policy. Now, again there was nothing witnessed in the proposed policy that bound the PTA to implement the policy in a stipulated timeframe, while the ministry said the implementation is the job of the PTA.

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