Once again, Interior Ministry is discussed regarding the increasing value of losses incurred under the head of illegal telecom traffic, which counts as high as USD 25 million per month.
According to Express Tribune, in a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting – all the stakeholders concluded that the interior ministry was a “major player” in the grey telecom market.
This is not the first time that the role of Interior Ministry has been challenged publicly for alleged involvement in illegal telephony traffic.
In a report published by Dawn in June 2010 alleged Rahman Malik, Minister Interior, for running a illegal VoIP telephony network. Report had said that leading beneficiaries of the grey, Rodcom Europe (now being renamed as Hollywell Solutions) was chaired by Rahman Malik. Though, Mr. Malik has denied any such allegations.
Report had linked 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.
(for those who don’t know higher ASR means higher charges for international callers to Pakistan – which incentivizes them to find out illegal ways to call Pakistan)
Very next day, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had issued a detailed update to explain how increased ASR helped the industry.
In a relating development recently, suspended member finance has also alleged PTA for hiking ASR and APC without authority’s approval, i.e. without following proper procedures as described in the telecom act of Pakistan.
Analysts say that it’s not a big deal for regulator and law enforcement agencies to curb the illegal traffic, given they have all the technologies available (or at least they had bought it) with them to sniff the data and identify illegal VoIP transmission.
“Suppose, if they say they don’t have the technology to sniff the data, then what are they waiting for? Spend few millions to save many billions”, said an industry expert.
In such a situation if a loss of $25 million per month is happening, then those who are responsible should be held accountable, he added.