Government of Pakistan has shown Universal Service Fund’s Rs. 67.7 billion (that were initially moved temporarily to Ministry of Finance) as its revenues to artificially bring down fiscal deficit, revealed a recently published report by State Bank of Pakistan.
For those who are not familiar, cellular companies contribute 1.5 percent of their annual revenues for Universal Service Fund. This fund is used by USF for the betterment of telecom services in far-flung areas of the country where providing services is otherwise not commercially viable .
Thanks to hefty contributions by cellular companies over the years, and incompetence of USF during past few years in not starting new projects and not reimbursing funds for a long time, the total value of fund had reached somewhere around Rs. 67 billion in total.
Earlier in 2013, a total of Rs. 67.7 billion saved with Universal Service Fund were moved to Ministry of Finance on adhoc basis which was itself a violation of USF objectives and Telecom Act, it is now revealed that this fund is consumed (read hijacked) by the government to cover its fiscal deficit.
As stated above, moving funds to Ministry of Finance on ad-hoc basis was illegal, its simply more illegal to use this fund for government’s budgetary purposes.
Telcos should come forward and they must save the future of un and under-developed areas or a commoner won’t hesitate in considering that telco’s silence is arranged through a criminal understanding with politicians
It won’t be out of place to mention here that government has to return this money back to Universal Service Fund for its proper utilization.
It is not a rocket science to understand that government will have to add this money under the head of expenditure when it will be returned back to USF (down the line), meaning that a hefty deficit at a later date in the budget but probably then current government would have gone and new upcoming government will have to bear the brunt.
Cellular companies, who are the real funders for Universal Service Fund, are apparently least bothered about how their billions are miss-treated by the politicians for their personal gains.
A telecom expert, who wanted to remain unnamed, opined that telecom operators who rush to Sindh High Court for every other matter should come forward and they must save the future of un and under-developed areas or a commoner won’t hesitate in considering that telco’s silence is arranged through an understanding with politicians.