Future of ICH Trembles After It Gets Suspended by Lahore High Court

PTA Headoffice, IslamabadGovernment’s plan for brewing millions of dollars for LDI operators is seemingly going to be trashed as Lahore High Court issued immediate suspension orders for ICH (International Clearing House) on last working day before Eid holidays, we have confirmed with sources.

After the decision, international incoming call rates to Pakistan are likely to go back to pre-ICH time from today.

Lahore High Court issued the order while hearing a writ petition filed by Brain Telecommunication pleading to suspend ICH agreement due to its gross violation of competition rules. Petitioner nominated MoIT, PTA and CCP as respondents to the case.

According to interim order issued by Lahore High Court, a copy of which is available with ProPakistani, the operations of policy directive dated August 13, 2012 issued by Ministry of Information Technology and ICH agreement dated August 30th, 2012 was suspended till next hearing that is scheduled for November 5th, 2012. Respondents were asked to submit their written responses before next hearing.

It maybe recalled that ICH was in effect from October 1st, 2012 under a policy directive by MoIT. According to the ministry directive, all LDI operators, except PTCL, were asked to suspend their international circuits for international incoming traffic and hence all international incoming traffic was practically landing on PTCL’s network only. All – other than PTCL – LDI operators were promised a respective revenue share from international incoming traffic according to their current market share.

With implementation of ICH, the international incoming call rates to Pakistan had gone up by 300% to 800% due to increase in ASR, APC and LDI’s share per minute.

It merits mentioning here that Competition Commission of Pakistan had issued a counter policy directive terming MoIT’s directive anti-competitive and a potential case of monopoly formulation. CCP had asked MoIT to withdraw its directive dated August 13th, 2012 concerning ICH, but MoIT didn’t act on it.

CCP, restrained by the mandate, could not restrict MoIT (a government body) from implementing ICH directive, but it loudly opposed the ICH formation by pointing out all the flaws in ICH that could lead to anti-competitive practices and violation of competition laws of Pakistan.

It maybe recalled that CCP as a anti-competition body can’t restrict a government body from implementing any policy, such as ICH in this case. This doesn’t come under CCP’s mandate to issue show-cause notice or to penalize a government body, such as Ministry of Information Technology in this case.

Due to this legal restraint, a petition was imminent from someone, for which Brain Telecommunication took the lead here. True fate of ICH will get clearer as the case proceeds, next hearing for which is on Nov 5th, 2012.

It must be made clear that unlike claimed by PTA and the Government, no money out of these increased international incoming rates were going into national exchequer directly. All the money from incoming international traffic (except APC and ASR) was destined to go into LDI’s pockets while PTCL was one of the top ICH beneficiaries. Estimates suggest that PTCL would make additional USD 300 million dollars or around per year in post-ICH era through increased call rates.

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

  • Shame on PTA and MoiT, they’re clearly not implementing the court order, and the rates are still the same, while it was opposite in the case of youtube banning, where they were hyperactive:(

  • Justice Iftikhar Muhammad
    Chief Justice of Pakistan
    Supreme Court of Pakistan
    Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
    Telephone: 051-9220581-9220600
    [email protected]

    SUBJECT : Huge Scam – Outflow of Billions of dollars from Pakistan
    by Foreign owned LDI Companies in Pakistan

    Dear Sir,
    On 1st October 2012 , Overseas Pakistanis got a huge shock when they
    dialed their loved ones in Pakistan. Instead of paying $ 0.04 (Rs 3)
    per minutes, they were charged $0.14 (Rs13) per minute.. In comparison call to india and china costs less than $0.01 per min and to Bangladesh only $0.02 per min . Government claimed by charging overseas Pakistanis more will bring extra revenue . However they failed to tell the full story . This is actually a huge scam to destroy Pakistan’s precious foreign reserves by sending billions of dollars out of
    Pakistan and reducing the amount of Remittance overseas Pakistani send to Pakistan for their loves ones

    Attached with this letter is an Advertisement published on 16th October
    2012 on front page of all major News Papers by Long Distance International (LDI
    ) companies in Pakistan. These LDIs have grouped together to form single monopoly consortium called International Clearing House (ICH) and increased rate. In the advertisement they have mentioned that in just 15 days
    their ICH consortium has earned Rs3.78 billion and another Rs0.84 billion for
    Government (USF) . But they failed to mention who owns these LDIs. The fact
    is that all these LDIs are 100% owned by foreign companies . This means that in the last fifteen days Rs3.78 billion earned by ICH which is money gotten from overseas Pakistanis will be handed over to these foreign companies by Government for outward flow of precious dollars from Pakistan

    Here is a list of LDIs and their foreign owners
    1. Link Direct International – Owned by Orasom Telecom holding, Egypt
    2. Worldcall LDI – Owned by Oman tel , Oman
    3. Redtone Telecom LDI – previously owned by Redtone Malaysia, now
    owned by Quantum Global , India/USA
    4. Wi-tribe – Qatar telecom , Qatar
    5. Wise Communication Systems , Owned by International
    Telecommunication Service (SRL), Italy
    6. Dancom – previously owned by Dancom Group Malaysia now owned by
    Orascom Telecom . Egypt
    7. Telenor LDI Communications – Telenor Group Norway
    8. Wateen Telecom – owned by Abu Dhabi Group , UAE
    9. Multinet Pakistan – owned by Axiata Group , Malaysia
    10. Circlenet Communication LDI owned by Circle Net UAE and foreign investors

    Sir these LDIs were given licenses in 2004 to bring competition for
    PTCL, instead they used political influence, bribes and managed to form one monopoly single company and worked out a quota deal with PTCL . Now just like before 2004, only PTCL is handling all international calls , while Rest of the LDIs are doing nothing ,they will just collect cheque amounting to billions each month and send them overseas to their parent companies

    Sir Your requested to investigate how these LDIs managed to form an illegal consortium and why PTA , MoIT is supporting them . Their licenses should be canceled for trying to do illegal activities and damaging Pakistan . Sir as a patriot overseas Pakistani, I have no problem paying higher for calling Pakistan
    but all these billions of precious foreign exchange must stay within Pakistan.
    It is requested that PTA and MoIT should be instructed to form a pure Pakistan entity to run international calls business to keep this important source of precious foreign exchange in Pakistan.

    Saeed Ahmed
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    [email protected]

    Copy to :

    1. Competition Authority of Pakistan
    2. Chairman Pakistan Telecom Authority
    3. Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecom
    4. All intelligence agencies including military intelligence
    5. All major news papers
    6. All political parties
    7. All public forums

  • check out the political buttering by LDI operator. their AD in all major news paper. the AD says Rs3.78 billion made by ICH in just 15 days which means hundreds of billions of dollars will flow out of pakistan because all the LDI operators are owned by foreign companies

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