[governance] Pakistan Universal Service Fund in Jeopardy
Salanieta T. Tamanikaiwaimaro
salanieta.tamanikaiwaimaro at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 05:05:48 EDT 2011
I am sorry to hear this. This is nightmarish.
On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 9:17 AM, Fouad Bajwa <fouadbajwa at gmail.com> wrote:
> A wave of shock and protest has hit the Pakistani ICT and Internet
> Communities and Industry as well as all other related sectors over the
> federal govt's interest in reallocating the USF for funding programs
> other than what the USF was originally created for and has the mandate
> to do.
> Move to use Rs45 bn of telecom companies for Benazir Income Support
> Programme (BISP).
> Source: DAILY NEWS PAKISTAN
> Abrar Mustafa
> Monday, July 25, 2011
> ISLAMABAD: A wave of apprehensions has taken over the telecom sector
> amid reports that Telecom Act 1996 was being amended, raising doubts
> that funds of telecom sector organisations will be spent for Benazir
> Income Support Programme (BISP).
> The Finance Ministry has decided to transfer funds of telecom
> companies amounting to over Rs45 billion to the accounts of the
> federal government.
> Sources disclosed the Finance Ministry has informed the Ministry of
> Information Technology and Telecom that it was going to amend Article
> 33 E(1)(A) of the Telecom (Reorganization) Act 1996, which reads:
> “Universal Services Fund and Research and Development Fund accounts
> shall be deposited in the Public Accounts of the Federation which will
> be operated in accordance with the procedure prescribed for the
> federal government”.
> The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom has started
> consultations with the relevant quarters for the amendment.
> The Universal Services Funds (USF) and Research and Development (R&D)
> Fund operate in the shape of two companies under the Ministry of
> Information Technology and Telecom. All revenue accrued from mobile
> phones and other telecom organizations go to these companies that are
> administered jointly by directors of the companies and government
> Any expenditure or investment from funds accumulated in the USF and
> R&D Funds is sanctioned by a high-powered three-member committee,
> which comprises of federal secretaries of finance and two other
> ministries. The funds of USF are used for provision of telephone and
> Internet services to the backward and under developed areas of the
> country whereas scholarships are being given to more than 10,000
> Moreover research is being made in the field of information
> technology. Accounts of both the organizations are subject to internal
> and external arrangements. Attempts were made to take hold of these
> funds when Sardar Latif Khosa was an adviser to the prime minister.
> However that could not materialise in the presence of rules and
> regulations. After that efforts were made to change the board of
> directors and get a CEO of choice appointed. However, the telecom
> sector had opposed the move tooth and nail, and the matter was taken
> to a court of law. Sardar Latif Khosa had to lose his powers as well
> as job.
> There are strong reservations about the reported move to amend the
> Telecom Act. The move to transfer funds of telecom companies to the
> federal government would deprive telecom sector of the funds so vital
> for their development and other programmes. It is said that telecom
> sector gives billions of rupees to the government in the shape of
> taxes and excise duties; therefore, it would be out of question to
> give these companies under the control of federal government.
> Telecom sector is of the opinion that these funds are generated by
> them and are voluntarily given to government. They threatened that if
> the proposed amendment is not withdrawn, the move would be strongly
> resisted on every front.
> Responsible officials of the Ministry of Information Technology and
> Telecom confided that discussion is being held with companies and
> telecom organizations and a suitable reply to the Ministry of Finance
> would be sent after that.
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"Stillness in the midst of the noise".
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