Rehman Malik, Minister Interior, is alleged of grey telephony revenues, causing Pakistan a direct loss of Rs. 30 billion a year, in a report published by The Dawn today.
Dawn revealed that one of the leading beneficiaries of the grey, Rodcom Europe (now being renamed as Hollywell Solutions) is chaired by Rehman Malik, the sitting interior minister. However, company website says “Dr. A. Rehman Malik” as its chairman.
On other hands, (as claimed by Dawn) Rehman Malik’s didn’t reply to reporter’s query for knowing his viewpoint over the allegations.
Newspaper connected the hike in approved settlement rates (ASR) with PPP’s government and said that despite the plans of lowering it, PTA increased ASR as soon as PPP joined the government in February 2008.
Dawn had tied Rehman Malikd with Rodcom Europe in the past as well.
Following is excerpt from Dawn story
London-based Rodcom Europe – a specialized VOIP (voice-over internet protocol) company established in 2001 “offering a limited number of high quality routes to a limited number of high quality customers”, according to the company website.
It says its early destinations were mainly to Europe and “Pakistan soon joined them when VOIP licences were first issued in 2003.” Rodcom’s activities in Pakistan, the website claimed, “have grown to a level where we are now one of the top five senders of Pakistan calls in Europe
The lack of transparency on the part of the government makes it next to impossible to figure out whether or not Rodcom’s activities are legal. The government contends that not all VOIPs are illegal, but the PTA refuses to provide details about operators registered with them.
This, observers conclude, suggests that most of them are operating in violation of rules and without paying taxes.
Regardless of whether or not Rodcom is operating legally, Rehman Malik’s ownership of the company raises moral and ethical questions. “That a federal minister who oversees law enforcement agencies which are required to curb such illegal telephone calls, should own a company involved in this business is clearly a conflict of interest,” an observer said.
Repeated attempts to get Mr Malik’s point of view failed; text messages to his mobile telephone remained unanswered. Repeated efforts to get his version though his personal staff members — Mohammad Shoaib, Zafar, Latif, Abdul Majeed and Nawazish Ali — over four weeks also remained futile. His ministry does not have an official spokesman at present.
PTA has reduced the ASR with the publicly announced objective of curbing grey traffic. For instance, the PTA reduced rates from about 20 US cents per minute to 7 cents per minute in the first three years of telecom market liberalization until late 2007.
However, the PPP-led government reversed this trend; the ASR were increased to 10 cents in May 2008 and then to 12.5 cents in February 2009. Though in July 2009 these were brought down to 10.5 cents per minutes, they still remain higher than they were before the PPP came into power. Furthermore, an additional tax, the access promotion contribution (APC), also witnessed a hike from two cents to five cents per minute in 2008 and then to 7.5 cents in February 2009. This too was reduced to 5.5 cents in July last year, where it still remains higher than what it was in 2008.