Reports are emerging that Information Memorandum for 3G isn’t being approved by two members of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and hence the whole process of 3G auction is almost halted.
Member finance and member technical, who are part of PTA approving board and their consent is mandatory for the approval of IM, are seemingly not going to approve the IM because they believe that hiring of consultants – the team that has prepared the IM and is responsible for procuring 3G auction process – was not hired in accordance with law, especially the Telecom act and PPRA rules.
The whole 3G auction will get to dead end without the approvals of both the members.
To cut a long story short, 3G auction – in current situations – seems impossible. Just to let you know, here is the process that is supposed to be followed for 3G auction:
- Hiring of Consultant – according to the 3G Policy or the directive issued (approved by cabinet division) for the auction of 3G licenses, a consultant firm should be be hired to procure the 3G auction.
- Preparation of IM – a document that details the schedule, terms and pricing of 3G auction
- Approval of IM by regulator and then cabinet – Regulatory authority includes the chairman and two members.
- Floating the IM in market – to let operators know the terms and base pricing of license
- Auction of 3G on a date defined in IM
PTA, in past one year, has prepared IMs at least twice but couldn’t go through the auction. Let’s have a look at incidents that led to failure of the auction, which will help us determine the person(s) responsible for the delay in auction.
Information Memorandum for 3G was first floated by PTA on January 23rd, 2012. Dr. Muhammad Yasin, then Chairman PTA had supervised the whole process and aimed for auction of 3G licenses on March 29th, 2012.
Our sources tell that Dr. Muhammad Yasin had met with Yousaf Raza Gillani, then Prime Minister of Pakistan on December 19th, 2011 to finalize the auction terms and to discuss the legalities concerning the auction.
Then everyone suddenly realized that consultant for 3G was not hired and hence there is no way 3G auction could be carried out just because this was against 3G policy that was approved by PM. This was when PTA published an advert on February 21st, 2012 for hiring of consultant, but reportedly the selection committee couldn’t hire the consultant firm.
In May 2012, we were told that PTA will revise the IM and whole process will be started over. In August, the ad for hiring of consultant was published again by MoIT, in response to which three consultant firms applied but all of them were disqualified on various grounds.
It maybe recalled that this was second ad published for hiring of consultant (one in March and second in August) that ended up without bringing any results. Not to mention, both the ads were published in most reputed papers in Pakistan and abroad.
Then without publishing any ad in print, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority advertised the job on its website for individual consultants, in place of consultant firms. This ad on PTA website surprisingly attracted 51 applications, 27 out of which were qualified for the final short-listing and eventually three consultants were announced to be hired for 3G auction.
During the whole process of hiring of individual consultants for 3G, Chairman PTA Muhammad Farooq Awan allegedly didn’t consult member finance and member tech. Who are now seemingly annoyed with that and argue that this hiring was against rules and they can’t approve the IM that was prepared by consultants who were hired illegally.
After I have briefly narrated the entire story for you, here are few questions that remain un-answered:
- First Attempt:
- Why Dr. Yasin didn’t hire consultants before floating the IM in January 2012? Even when he was told by PM to do so?
- Why opposition politicians suddenly jumped in to oppose 3G IM, when they didn’t say a word when 3G policy was approved six months ago?
- Second Attempt:
- Why Chairman PTA, Muhammad Farooq Awan didn’t consult with Member Finance and Member Tech before finalization of 3G consultants? They are same team and sit in same building then why not?
Who is Responsible for Delay in 3G?
Answering these questions will get you to the real culprits who are responsible for delaying 3G. I will leave this for the concerns to dig out.
Just if you are wondering why 3G is so important then read this article by Mr. Pervez Iftikhar, in which he has explained that why can’t we afford to delay 3G in Pakistan?