530 MN SIMs have been verified and 490 MN still have to verified. Dr. SHAH

SIM is not a primary source of crime, but a useful tool for investigation. Aslam Hayat,Telenor

Re-verification of SIMs, the mobile industry faces a loss of rupees 100 billion  and the government will lose approximately rupees 22 billion in taxes.

Criminals of every society always take advantage of technological advancements,  Ammar Jaffri

ISLAMABAD ( ABRAR MUSTAFA )

SDPI’s study group on IT and Telecom discussed ‘gains and losses’ result from implementing the government’s directive to re-verify 103 million SIMs through biometric verification system (BVS). 530 MN SIMs have been verified up till and 490 MN still have to be verified in 91 days says Chairman PTA Syed Ismail Shah. The questions discussed were: What would the exercise cost? How many SIMs will be closed? What would be the loss in revenue and taxes? Would it reduce crime rate? What difficulties and hardships the mobile telephone users will undergo?

Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman PTA deliberated on the regulatory aspects of the re-verification initiative which is being carried out under National Action Plan. While covering a brief history of steps taken by PTA for verification of SIMs in the past, he shed light on the global perspective of similar exercises undertaken around the globe. He emphasized that the regulator has to maintain a fine balance between the increasing demands of Law Enforcement Agencies, in the wake of Law and Order situation and protecting investment made by Cellular Mobile Operators. He informed that during last 38 days of the exercise, more than 50 Million SIMs have been verified by 38 Million individuals however, a lot of progress is yet to be made as turnout of subscribers having three or more SIMs on their CNICs is very low. While concluding his remarks, he shared some thoughts regarding impact of the whole activity not only on consumers and Law Enforcement Agencies but also on financial and economic progress of the Telecom sector.             

Aslam Hayat, Vice President Corporate Affairs Telenor said that SIM is not a primary source of crime, but a useful tool for investigation. Sale of verifiable SIMs has remained a challenge in Pakistan. He said that as a result of mandatory biometric re-verification of SIMs, the mobile industry faces a loss of rupees 100 billion in 2015 and the government will lose approximately rupees 22 billion in taxes. This will adversely affect future investment. The industry has already spent a huge amount on BVS and will need to spend more than rupees 530 million. This means the revenues will be hit and taxes will be hit. Besides, the exercise cannot be completed in 90 days. He emphasized the need for consultation between the government and the mobile industry.

High lighting the importance of putting in place the required infrastructure for coordinated efforts, Mr. Ammar Jaffri, Former Additional DG FIA and currently Chief Executive “Pakistan Institute of ICTs for Development” stressed the need for maintaining a balance between the vital need of registration of SIMs and the comfort level of People of Pakistan especially in rural areas. For the effective control of such initiatives in future, Mr. Jaffri stressed the need for establishing Tele-centers in semi urban and rural areas of Pakistan under Public-private partnerships. He said that keeping In view of the fact that criminals of every society always take advantage of technological advancements, registration and regular documentation of SIMs has been a priority agenda for good governance in all countries of the world. A few countries could not make the required infrastructure in this regard; Pakistan is also included in this list. He said that in July2014, as many as 70,000 biometric machines were installed at sale points of cellular mobile operators.   SIMs is now being sold and activated only after online verification of purchaser’s biometrics (thumb/finger impressions) by the National Database and Registration Authority.Amb® Shafqat kakakhel, Chair BoG of SDPI deliver welcome address and Ejaz Shafi Gillani of Gallup Presided over the 59th SDPI’s study group meeting at SDPI here.

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