FATA Administration is Slowing Down USF’s Projects in the Area

The Universal Service Fund Company (USF Co) is all set to approve bidding process of contracts — worth billion of rupees — without conducting mandatory prior survey in three agencies of FATA, revealed USF officials.

The political administration and Headquarter 11 are yet to issue NoC to the USF Co for survey and launch of USF rural telephone and e-services projects in three agencies of FATA including Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur agencies.

However, the USF Co Board meeting is scheduled for Monday where bidding in these agencies would be approved. The Board meeting would be chaired by State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman.

This was stated by USF officials while briefing the sub-committee of the Senate Standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication which met with Taj Muhammad Afridi in the chair here on Tuesday.

Syed Asif Kamal Chief Technology Officer (CTO) USF said that Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has directed for working in these areas, based on the telecom operators’ available data. He further said that they are trying to get NoC since September last year, but it is yet to be issued by the FATA secretariat and other concerned quarters.

Kamal said that USF Co has received a letter dated April 5th 2017 from Levy and Khasadar section of Law and Order Department, FATA secretariat asking about certain details of the survey activity. Requisite information has again been shared through USF Co on April 10th, 2017. However, response is still awaited.

The officials further raised questions that whether law enforcement agencies would allow working in the area in the absence of NoC.

FATA secretariat official informed that NoC is required in the prevailing situation for carrying projects in the area.

Afridi expressed annoyance over non-serious attitude of FATA secretariat while saying that IT Ministry and USF are serious and want to spread telecom services to FATA, but the attitude of the Secretariat is resulting in hindrances. The committee convener also expressed annoyance over the absence of Additional Chief Secretary and Secretary Law and Order from the meeting. If the attitude remains the same, committee would bring privilege motion against the concerned officials, he added.

The committee recommended the FATA Secretariat to assist the USF Co to ensure smooth implementation of projects in FATA. The committee also recommended issuing NoC to USF Co for extending telecom services in the area.