In a strange and usual move, Mr. Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister, mentioned Universal Service Fund projects in his federal budget speech and portrayed that such projects — worth billions of rupees — were financed by the federal government, which is clearly not the case.
Mr. Dar said that more than Rs. 12 billion are being spent on establishment of “Universal tele-centres”, while another Rs. 2.8 billion are spent on laying of fibre optic cable to connect 128 tehsils in the country.
He further bragged about Rs. 3.8 telecom projects for rural and far flung areas of Pakistan.
Mr. Dar tried to portray that all these projects were financed by federal government, however, the reality is that such projects are powered by Universal Service Fund, an independent company that is funded by 1.5 percent of annual revenues of private telecom companies.
This is not the first time that Mr. Dar and his party has taken the credit for the projects of Universal Service Fund, in fact the whole of Universal Service Fund is hijacked by the ruling party and is used for its self projection which is against the SECP and ECP regulations.
The truth is that Mr. Dar and his government didn’t allocate a single penny in the federal budget 2015 for ICT development, mushrooming of entrepreneurship or the development of digital ecosystem or anything at all for information technology and telecom sectors.