Pakistan and the Dubai-based Etisalat have resumed talks to resolve the much-awaited $800 million in outstanding dues on account of privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).
Well placed sources revealed that presently, an Etisalat team is in Pakistan for talks over the recovery of the pending dues. The government of Pakistan has constituted a committee consisting of Secretary Privatization Commission, Secretary Information Technology & Telecom and Finance Secretary to negotiate with Etisalat for recovery of the amount.
Talking to the correspondent, State Minister for Finance Rana M Afzal Khan said that the government is short on dollars and therefore trying to materialize the outstanding $800 million on account of privatization of 26 percent shares of PTCL in the current fiscal year. He confirmed that the government has resumed talks with Etisalat and plans to move forward and receive maximum of the outstanding amount.
He further said that Etisalat’s bid was one billion dollar higher compared to the second bidder, and government wants to settle the issue at the earliest.
Former chairman, Privatization Commission (PC) had told a parliamentary panel that Pakistan will not go into arbitration against the Dubai-based Etisalat for not releasing $800 million outstanding on account of the purchase of shares of PTCL, as it would have negative consequences on bilateral relations between the two countries.
As per the Share Purchase Agreement, the payment of the balance $1.2 billion was contingent upon transfer of clean and clear titles of 100% properties by January 2008.
In case of failure, valuations of the properties not transferred till January 2008 will be carried out by both the Seller and the Purchaser separately and higher of the two valuations will be considered for deduction from the balance installments.
At the time of privatization of PTCL, there were a total of 3,248 properties to be turned in favor of PTCL. Of these, 3,215 have already been transferred leaving behind 33 outstanding properties and Etisalat has been informed that these are non-transferable.
Privatization Commission has had the properties assessed by three valuers at different times. Hamid Mukhtar & Co was first engaged in 2009. Subsequently, National Bank of Pakistan was tasked in 2011 and lastly by M/s Iqbal Nanjee & Co in 2013.
The $800 million in arrears from the privatization of PTCL are not mentioned in 2016-17 & 2017-18 budget books, suggesting the government has little hope of recovering the money anytime soon.