Chairman PTA Opposes ICH, Calls for its Cancellation


Dr. Ismail Shah, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, has publicly criticized International Clearing House or ICH, an arrangement by LDI operators – established in October 2012 under the direction of then MoIT – to terminate international incoming traffic into Pakistan through a single gateway while all operators were destined to get a set share of revenues.

Dr. Shah shared his opinion about ICH in an article published in “The News” yesterday, at a time when matter is subjudice in Sindh High Court and is awaiting determination.

It maybe recalled that MoIT had issued a policy directive for the withdrawal of ICH, however, Sindh High Court held the withdrawal directive when a petition was accepted for hearing which maintained that LDI operators were not consulted before the issuance of directive.

Dr. Ismael Shah in his column notes that international incoming voice traffic to Pakistan decreased by 404 percent – thanks to ICH – from 2 billion minutes per month in October 2012 to just 487 million minutes per month in May 2014.

Chairman said that ICH impacted Pakistan’s business competitiveness due to fixation of revenues. He said that ICH posed serious negative implications for the sector at large impeding growth, decrease in taxable revenues, negative perception about the country abroad and inability to abide to Pakistan’s international obligations (WTO in particular).

While narrating the history of ICH, Dr. Ismael wrote:

The said ICH policy directive was criticised from the start and called a controversial development. It was first challenged before the Lahore High Court and then at the august Supreme Court of Pakistan, which through order dated 21st February, 2014 referred the matter to Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) for decision.

The CCP in its detailed order of 30th April, 2013, observed the said ICH Agreement as hard core violations; declared it annulled and void under the provisions of Competition Act, 2010 and advised PTA to restore competition amongst the LDI operators as it existed prior to the said ICH Agreement while imposing heavy penalties on LDI Operators.

However, being aggrieved of the Order of CCP, PTCL and other LDI operators approached High Court of Sindh. The High Court granted interim relief/stay order to LDI Operators on 20th May, 2013 by suspending the operation of CCP’s order.

Chairman revealed that due to its controversial nature, present government wanted to resolve the matter of ICH. For the purpose a series of meeting were held under the chairmanship of Finance Minister with the participation of all stakeholders.

Chairman claimed that PTA carried out a lengthy consultation process to find amicable solution to the issue and only after having studied all the positives and negatives of the ICH, authority concluded that it has not served the purpose it was meant for.

Dr. Shah went on to explain that the cancellation of ICH is expected to bring more foreign exchange in the country as overseas Pakistanis will make calls to Pakistan at cheaper rates and would send their hard-earned money back home thus substantially increasing foreign remittances.

He notes that end of ICH will also increase the total volume of calling minutes which saw 404% decrease after implementation of ICH.

He concluded his column by saying that directive to reverse ICH arrangement is hoped to meet all positive outcomes it is aimed at.

In a related news, PTA and MoIT is going to appear before Sindh High Court today for hearing on ICH case. Reportedly, both MoIT and PTA are fully prepared with hopes that stay order on MoIT’s directive will be lifted immediately and that ICH will be withdrawn as soon as possible.

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

    • Syed Ismail Shah, who is the author above discussed article is
      also the author of ICH Policy currently enforced. He has written this
      policy when he was serving as Member Telecom at Ministry of Information
      Technology. Eating your own words is sign of a dicey personality and
      will be casting shadows and doubts in the mind of public on the
      decisions he is now making as Chairman PTA.

      Curbing Grey traffic
      is the responsibility of PTA in which they have miserably failed and it
      led to substantial decrease in international termination volumes. More
      than 70% of expat Pakistanis lives in Gulf countries where retail
      tariffs are very high and even today calling rates for India, Bangladesh
      and Pakistan are same despite difference in respective country
      termination rates. Pakistanis are and will continue to pay more than 10
      cents / minute to call to middle east and Europe mobile and PTA is not
      interested to do any activity in bring rates down for these
      destinations, the actual relief for society.

      Out of all odd
      examples, Chairman PTA has quoted Lycamobile as example ignoring the
      fact that Lycamobile has filed biggest bankruptcy in Europe telecom
      history and why shouldn’t they after having such sympathizers for their
      business case. The matter of published article clearly spell out who’s
      purpose Chairman PTA is serving, but I am sure it’s not for Pakistan and
      Pakistanis living abroad.

      • bhai jaan bahrain mey pkistan india or bangladesh rates same nahi hain
        in one bd india and bangladesh get more than 45 minutes and pakistan 20 minutes.
        achi loot maar hey na?

        • Also check this sms reply from Du (Mobile operator at UAE) for calling rates: Fwd: Call for only 0.5 fils/sec, with a set-up fee of AED 1/call on int.l calls to Afghanistan (except numbers starting with 009378), Bangladesh, Egypt, China, India, Iran, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria or Pakistan. Charges are deducted from More Time

      • He was my teacher in CASE Islamabad, I found him a person with double standards, fake and a businessman with his colleagues who were also part of this business. They all are making money ripping off overseas Pakistanis. Losers who studied on expense of Pakistan is still ripping it off.

  • in jesa 2,4 or hon to mulk bech khain.loot macha rukhi ha pta me.nawaza ja raha ha apnayu logo ko.

  • there we go again. “decreased 404%”

    If that was said by the chairman and not written by the editor/article writer, then maybe we need a new chairman.

    • lol you trying to be over smart i dont know what is ur problem if u dont know anything about % then keep shut ur mouth thats simple

      • Shahid is right because decreasing 404% means its negative. Decrease cannot be more than 100%. This isn’t something to get upset about. It is simply Math.

        • The examples you’ve given are actually good examples of when it is incorrect to say something has decreased by 300/400%, because mouthwashes can only reduce plaque by 100%, that is, get rid of it completely. That’s like saying, this cream decreases wrinkles by 200%…that’s impossible. It can, maximum, decrease wrinkles by 100%, which would be all of the wrinkles! You cannot “double”-reduce wrinkles, they are either partially gone, say 50 to 60%, or completely, 100%.
          With profits for example, a company generates revenue of $100,000 in one year, the next year, it is $400,000…that would be an INcrease by 400%. But NOW: if the profit for the year after that was $0…then profits would decrease by 100%. You lose everything…100%. Not more is possible. mr Professor Mathematics

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