The government of Pakistan can no longer utilize Universal Service Fund money for anything except for the dedicated purpose of expanding IT and Telecom services in far-flung and underdeveloped areas of the country, according to a notification that has been issued in a secret manner, we have checked with sources.
It maybe recalled that government of Pakistan had transferred some Rs. 60 billion of USF’s money from commercial bank accounts to “National Consolidated Fund” back in 2013.
Not to be mentioned, this USF money — that amounted around Rs. 60 billion — is collected from private mobile phone companies at 1.5% of their annual revenues to bridge digital divide in the country.
It is known to everyone that this Rs. 60 billion was later used to clear circular debt and that’s when questions were raised on why a private sector fund was used to run government affairs.
Supreme Court of Pakistan was also moved on the matter and the apex court in fact asked the government to explain its position on utilizing the USF money for its operational tasks.
Now, to avoid public outcry and legal implications, a new mechanism has been put in place and funds under the head of USF are now being collected at “Public Account of Federation” where government perform the duty of trustee only and cannot utilize this fund for any purposes, officials told ProPakistani.
With new setup in place, USF board will have to approve any budget to get the fund withdrawn from “Public Account of Federation” for the projects that USF may want to pursue.
Universal Service Fund has plans to spend Rs. 2.43 billion worth of telecom projects for Balochistan and FATA during 2016-17, while Rs 9.52 billion will be spent on already running USF projects during next one year.