Etisalat Withholds 3 Installments – GoP May not Facilitate the Dispute

Etisalat has not paid three installments to Government of Pakistan against PTCL’s 26 percent shares, due to its differences with Government, told us sources familiar with the issue.

In connection to this scenario, National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology & Telecommunications held an emergency meeting today to discuss the situation.

Sources have reported that committee expressed its reservations over privatization deal, while Etisalat’s performance of managing PTCL was also discussed, which was found unsatisfactory. It was discussed in the meeting that Etisalat has not paid three installments while its fourth installment is due on September 12th, 2009.

We have reported earlier that unpaid installments’ value is US 799 million dollars.

The News reports that sitting was held at the Parliament House while it was chaired by Ch Mohammad Berjees Tahir. He was briefed by Director General, Ministry of Privatization on the privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited by the Privatization Commission, keeping in view the process adopted for PTCL privatization; payment schedule agreed between both the parties; objectives achieved by PTCL privatization and payment made by Etisalat to the government so far.

Standing committee was of the view that Government should have safe guarded the down payment of Etisalat, when it was not paying its first installment after the bid.

Committee expressed that PTCL’s privatization was done to promote telecom industry, then how come the government agreed for not issuing any telecom license for next 7 years after the purchase deal – which is actually halting the progress of industry.

Dispute of property handover was also discussed, which is the core issue between Etisalat and Government of Pakistan. It was told that Government has handed over about 3000 properties to Etisalat, in favor of PTCL while remaining 200-300 properties are owned by Sindh and Punjab provinces. Both provincial administration are asking for the market value of properties instead of book value, which is collectively as high as 20 billion rupees (as per our sources’ estimates).

Standing Committee suggested that owing to the poor performance of PTCL, the purchaser of the company may not be facilitated in any kind by the government.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK