PTET’s ‘blatant violation of SC order’ irks Senate body

'Assets of PTET – particularly Ufone Tower – has been let out to a single entity under PTCL umbrella (Ufone), which has further sublet it at higher rates'

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Employees Trust (PTET), in blatant violation of the Supreme Court order with regard to payment of pensions to retired PTCL employees, has not been complying to the government-determined pension rates since 2010.

The fair value (FV) of assets held by the PTET has also fallen short of the present value (PV) of the obligations of PTET. While the FV of assets of PTET have historically been higher than the PV of their obligations – Rs45 billion and Rs36.5 billion respectively from 1996 till 2007 – now the FV of the assets have dropped to Rs109 billion as opposed to the PV of obligations which is Rs116 billion.

Side by side, PTCL’s accrual valuation system is also against the Telecommunication Act 1996, which is causing the pension payments to ex-PTCL employees to be less than what the government had determined.

The above information was presented in the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication by sub-committee convener Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi in a detailed report on the issue of non-payment of the increased pension of retired PTCL employees by PTET.

Committee chairperson Senator Rubina Khalid observed that the pensioners are facing hardships in making ends meet due to this unfair distribution of pension payments by the PTET. She said that the committee would present a detailed report in the House and would continue to pursue the matter to provide legal and constitutional rights to the pensioners.

Senator Rukhsana said that financial losses, incompetence and other lapses resulted in shrinking of the PTET’s financial strengthen and resultantly, the pensioners have been facing difficulties. She highlighted how the assets of the PTET – particularly Ufone Tower – has been let out to a single entity under PTCL umbrella (Ufone) which has further sublet it at high rates.

“The rent income, which rightfully belongs to the pensioners is not being transferred to them,” she informed the committee. “PTET also invested Rs408 million in stocks and then simply said that the invested equity is all gone.”

She apprised the committee of the current situation, whereby on December 28, 2018, PTET had written a letter to the Ministry of IT saying that there has been a shortfall of approximately Rs39.1 billion.

There have also been long going cases in high courts and the Supreme Court where most of the petitioners (pensioners) have won their claims against PTET’s insufficient pension payments. However, PTET has only paid off the pensioners who managed to reach out to the courts, while hundreds of pensioners are still waiting hopelessly for the payment of their dues that have been culminating since 2010. “PTET is also using the trust’s money to even pay for these cases, which until now has already cost approximately Rs 77 million in the fees of lawyers,” Senator Rukhsana said.

The joint secretary of the Ministry of IT and Telecom, who is also one of the six board members of PTET, said that PTET had four categories of pensioners – those who were awarded claims by the SC, those who retired before January 1996, those who retired after January 1996, and those who took VSS retirement. He said that that PTET has increased the pension payments of the second category by 10pc.

However, before he could finish, committee chairperson Senator Rukhsana and Senator Rehman Malik interrupted by saying that when the Supreme Court ordered to pay the amounts of pensions as were determined by the government as opposed to the PTCL or PTET, then all pensioners are to be considered in the first category – court category. They also said that when the SC has issued a verdict, it is all encompassing and not following it or payments to only a few pensioners is a direct violation of the order.

Senator Rehman Malik said, “Bureaucracy should not consider the authorities to be idiots. The pensioners are going through tough times but unfortunately, the authorities concerned are adamant and not moving towards the resolution of the issue.”

He called for taking stern action against those involved.

The committee, after detailed discussion, also sought views from the representatives of the retired employees. They appealed to the committee and other authorities concerned to provide relief to the retired pensioners of the PTCL.

The meeting was attended by Senators Shahzad Wasim, Rehman Malik, Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh, Engr Rukhsana Zuberi and Sana Jamali, besides senior officers of the ministry of IT.

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