The government seems to have given-up hopes about getting the outstanding $800 million on account of privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) from Etisalat as not a single word has been stated about the amount in budget documents.
At the completion of its first 100 days under the incumbent government, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication prepared a document which comprised of actions taken during this period (policy Initiative/improvement in service delivery).
According to that document, the government constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee. The committee was to deliberate and resolve the issues of renewal of cellular licenses and PTCL privatization issue, besides devising a resolution mechanism for all outstanding matters including payment of outstanding $800 million started after high-level agreement with UAE delegation. According to the same documents, rationalization of $800 million deal was expected to yield around one billion rupees benefit to PTCL annually.
Several ministers of the incumbent government stated that government was expecting a major breakthrough with Etisalat to resolve much-awaited $800 million outstanding dues on account of privatization of PTCL. The engagements with Etisalat were very positive and likely to reach some conclusion very soon about 6 months ago.
However, there is not a single word stated about the outstanding amount on account of PTCL privatization in the budget speech of Minister of State for Revenue or in budget documents for the next fiscal year.
A High ranking official at the Privatization Commission maintained that negotiations are under process with Etisalat. However the process is complicated and may take some time, the official maintained.
Secretary Privatization Commission Rizwan Malik, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Privatization in April 2019, stated that Etisalat has once again disputed the PTCL deal over the shortfall of properties listed in schedule 7 of the Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) due to peculiar reasons.
Secretary PC said that notwithstanding the earlier consensus, Etisalat has once again disputed the list of 33 non-doable properties by stating that the shortfall of properties also includes 363 properties subtracted from the total number of properties listed in schedule 7 of the Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA).
Malik said that the government was resolving the issue amicably with the Dubai-based Etisalat, in order to avoid any bitterness in bilateral relations.
Malik said that Etisalat has hired two firms currently working to evaluate the properties and check titles and on ground status of these properties. It was expected that the evaluation and checking process would be completed in 10-12 months. If the issue is not resolved then the matter would go to international arbitration.