Former govt signed agreement to transfer PTCL’s ‘non-existent’ properties

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The Senate’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications was briefed on Wednesday that at the time of privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), the then government had committed to transfer certain properties of the company which didn’t even exist, a local media outlet reported.

During the briefing before the standing committee, chaired by Senator Rubina Khalid, the Privatisation Commission secretary said that China Mobile had placed a bid of $1.4 billion while Etisalat had struck the deal for 26 per cent stakes in the company against $2.6 billion.

In March 2006, the then government signed an agreement with Etisalat under which 3,384 properties of the PTCL had to be handed over to the company. However, the Senate body was briefed that the properties on the ground were only 3,248 while 38 properties could not be transferred, the committee was briefed.

The Privatisation Commission official informed the Senate committee that after the government failed to transfer all properties to Etisalat — as mentioned in the agreement — the Middle East-based company has stopped the payment of $799 million to the government citing non-compliance of the agreement.

Senator Rehman Malik asked the officials what action has so far been taken against those responsible for the inclusion of false properties in the agreement. He directed the commission to brief Etisalat regarding the current situation.

The committee also discussed the reasons why PTCL pensioners had been denied the increase in pension despite orders from the Supreme Court.

The standing committee members expressed their resentment over the situation and directed the authorities to pay pensions to former employees of the PTCL by Jan 15, 2019.

In 2006, Etisalat, the Gulf Arab regions second-largest telecom firm, signed an agreement to purchase a 26 per cent stake in PTCL for $2.6bn, but the company has withheld the payment of $799mn, due to problems linked with a transfer of real estate units.

 

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