During Senate Standing Committee on IT’s meeting last week, the Ministry of Information Technology revealed that PTCL owed some Rs. 40 billion in pensions to retired PTCL workers.
This pension is now under the head of liabilities since PTCL didn’t increase pension rates as per government notifications — almost every year for several years — as it thought that the government rates didn’t apply on the company since it was private limited.
Pensioners, in response, moved to court and won the cases.
The ministry stated that the payment of Rs. 40 billion outstanding pensions to these employees would bankrupt the company.
Secretary Ministry of Information Technology Rizwan Bashir explained to the Senate Standing Committee,“We cannot ask the PTCL to pay such a huge amount, which is almost half the worth of the telecom company.”
The previous government increased pensions by 20%. That amount accumulated as the increased pensions remained unpaid by the company leading to a staggering 40 billion rupees in arrears. The Senate committee reminded the ministry to pay the 40,000 retired PTCL employees several times over this duration.
During Thursday’s meeting, Committee chairman Shahi Syed once again asked about the delay in paying the dues. “The government must think about the welfare of the retired employees and their widows instead of watching the interests of the company. The money means a huge difference in the lives of the poor,” said Shahi Syed.
Mr Syed also quoted Supreme Court order to pay the outstanding pensions to the former PTCL employees.
In February 2016, the apex court had declared that retired employees of PTCL were entitled to the 20% increase in pensions. However, the ministry challenged the decision again and the matter is still stuck in court.
Secretary Bashir requested the committee to discuss the financial matters of the PTCL in an in-camera meeting, which was declined by the committee. Senators Rehman Malik and Rubina Khalid argued against keeping affairs pertaining to the PTCL secret.
“PTCL is more of a Pakistani company over 70pc ownership and the pension to be paid is public money,” said PPPP Senator Rubina Khalid.
Secretary Bashir asked for some time to share the exact amount of outstanding dues owed to the pensioners since Rs. 40 billion was an estimate.