PTA Finalizes Consultancy firm For Audit of BVS Verified Customers

Intelligence Agencies have given clean chit to Secure Tech Consultancy Firm for third-party audit of mobile subscribers’ data that mobile phone companies verified last year, senior officials confirmed.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had selected Secure Tech consultancy firm for third-party audit of mobile subscribers’ data, that were verified during the Biometric Verification System (BVS) drive.

After PTA’ selection, Secure Tech consultancy firm name was sent to intelligence clearance. After repeated reminders, Intelligence agencies have finally given green signal and final approvals have been granted.

After this PTA has now confirmed the selection of the consultancy firm for the audit. The Firm will be responsible for cross-verification of the data submitted by telecom operators for their BVS verified SIMs.

Secure Tech is reportedly run by an ex-Army officer who also served as Chairman NADRA.

After getting required clearance from intelligence agencies, PTA would sign agreement with the firm soon to carry out audit of SIMs verified through BVS.

Due to security concerns, international consultancy firms were not invited, however, 14 local firms had expressed interest in the exercise.

The Authority had reportedly asked the Interior Ministry to give the task of audit to any probing agency; however, the request was turned downed.

SIMs’ verification through BVS was made part of the National Action Plan (NAP) to avoid the misuse of phones. After the conclusion of BVS drive, Interior Ministry had directed PTA to carry-out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity. In this regard, Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor was floated.

The subscribers of one telecom operator increased by about one million during March-April 2015, at a time when the sale of new SIMs was banned at retailer outlets, which raises question marks on the credibility of BVS drive, said sources, adding that the number of subscribers of all other telecom operators declined during this period.

PTA had taken serious note of the alleged discrepancies in SIMs data submitted by telecom companies after the BVS drive and had directed all telecom operators to provide monthly subscribers information but only for BVS verified customers.

Out of target of 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million SIMs were re-verified through BVS while 27.5 million active SIMs were blocked by 15th May 2015 which brought down the number of active SIMs from 139 million to 111.5 million.

Sources said that stern action against telecom operators would be taken if they have been found to be involved in submitting wrong SIMs data including show-cause notices and heavy penalties as per the law.

PTA said that it will make the results of third-party audit public after the completion of the process.