Senate Body Asks PTA: Under What Rules TikTok Was Banned in Pakistan

A meeting of the Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation was held on Monday at the Parliament House.

Discussing enforcement of the Tik Tok ban, the Committee was of the view that banning of Social Media and IT companies in the country is not the answer to curb the spread of questionable material in the country. Doing this, it was asserted, will push Pakistan off the development bandwagon.

It was stressed that the regulation of content must be pursued instead. PTA was directed to provide the rules according to which TikTok was banned.

The Committee discussed in detail the status of competition rules mandated under Section 57 of the Telecom Act, 1996 and prescribed in Telecom Policy, 2015. It was also briefed by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) regarding amendment in Rule 12 of the Public Procurement Rules 2014.

The Committee was informed that as per clause of the Telecom Policy 2015; to consolidate the robustness of the market structure, the sector will increasingly be managed through the application of Competition Rules for the Telecommunication Sector.

These Competition Rules will be developed by MoIT as mandated under Section 57 of the Telecom Act and in conformance with the Competition Act 2010. The Competition Rules will govern all completion matters of the Telecommunication Sector.

In this regard, PTA has already provided input on the Draft Competition Rules to MoIT in December, 2017 for further necessary action. The Committee was of the view that measures must be taken to avoid monopoly. All players, it was stressed, must be given equal opportunity and thus rules must be formulated to achieve this end.

The Committee members took strong notice of the fact that despite the Telecom Act being passed in 1996, no policy was formulated until 2015. Rules and regulations are still not in place.

It was stressed that proper regulation is imperative for fair competition ensuring equal market opportunity for all players. The Committee directed that a draft of rules that have been formulated to-date must be submitted to the Committee in the next meeting. All other rules must be finalized within the next three months.

While being briefed by Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) regarding amendment in Rule 12 of the Public Procurement Rules 2014; the Committee was informed that in this rule the lower financial limit was enhanced from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 500,000 to upload tenders on the PPRA website.

The upper limit for this was enhanced from Rs. 2 million to Rs. 3 million. Uploading procurements on the PPRA website would now cost Rs. 3 million. The main objective for the revision of rates was to address the issues of price escalations being faced by procurement agencies in Pakistan. The financial limit was previously revised in 2006. The Committee asserted that PPRA must ensure transparency.

The Committee was assured that SOPs will be formulated to ensure that all stakeholders are given a fair chance. It was also notified that the government has given clear directions to pursue e-tendering in the future. Chaired by Senator Kauda Babar, the meeting was attended by Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Dr. Asad Ashraf, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh, Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini and senior officers from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority along with all concerned. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan was also present.

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