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Too little too late Senate committee demands recovery of $800 million

Too little too late: Senate committee demands recovery of $800 million

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology expressed concern over the outstanding payment of $800 million against Etisalat. This amount is still pending from the privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited (PTCL) almost a decade ago.

The standing committee, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Shahi Saeed, urged the incumbent government to take pragmatic steps to ensure recovery of the amount due from the UAE-based company for the privatisation of PTCL in 2006.

The panel also sought action against those responsible for not only privatising a profit-making entity but also mishandling the process, resulting in loss of such a huge amount.

The committee observed that despite Supreme Court’s suo motu notice of the issue and intervention of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the issue remains unresolved.

Reacting to the issue, PTI senator Shibli Faraz said that the government must take practical steps to recover the amount.

“Such an amount is huge for a country like Pakistan and its loss is against national interest,” he noted.

He also stated that NAB’s inquiry report on this issue must be made public and distributed among the committee members.

PPP senator Rehman Malik said that action must be taken against those who intentionally mishandled the issue and distorted the feasibility case of privatisation of the country’s largest telecom company.

Senator Naseema Ahsan recommended taking urgent and strong steps with Etisalat, which is bound to pay the amount to Pakistan.

Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said that it is the government which should take step to recover the amount as per the agreement between the two parties.

Privatisation Commission Chairman Muhammad Zubair said that NAB has probed into the matter and the report has been sent to the Public Accounts Committee.

He said that meetings with Etisalat are being held to resolve the issue, adding that scraping the clause, pertaining to deadline for the payment of the amount from the agreement, is creating legal hurdles in the recovery of the amount.

Zubair also suggested that the committee members must meet Etisalat officials to take up the issue.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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