Govt delays auction of 3G licences
ISLAMABAD: As delays have occurred in the auction of third generation (3G) licences, the responsibility now lies on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who holds the additional charge of information technology ministry.
The government had planned auction of 3G telecom licences during the financial year of 2011-12 and had set a target of Rs50 billion in the federal budget.
The 3G is a category of next generation mobile networks that operates at a higher frequency and at larger channel bandwidth to support very high data rates of up to 4mbps. With the 3G in place, mobile phone users would be able to enjoy video chat, along
with high speed internet facility.
During the ongoing financial year, the government has estimated to generate revenue of Rs70bn by auctioning 3G licences. But on ground, there is no development.
In a recent response to the query of a National Assembly member, the house was informed that the auction was stalled in March 2012 and at the moment no new directions have been received from the government.
It said that in pursuant to policy directive on introduction of 3G mobile phone services in Pakistan (Dec 19, 2011), Clause 4(v)(c), the PTA was required to immediately carry out the process of appointment of internationally reputed consultant(s) to assist the Auction Supervisory Board Committee (ASC) in fulfilling its assignments. The ASC is headed by the federal minister for finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.
In compliance with the said directives, the PTA published advertisements, both nationally and internationally, following procedure as detailed in Public Procurement Rules, 2004, and requested proposals from prospective consultants.
Since the process of hiring consultants for advising on the auction of 3G spectrum/licence was halted in March on instructions of ASC, new bids were invited from prospective consultants again in August, 2012 in compliance with the directions from the Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf. However, since then there was no specific directive from the government side.
The document presented before the house said the authority was following all PPRA rules and regulations regarding selection of consultancy firm in letter and spirit.
The authority has apprised media and other stakeholders, including information and finance ministries, on all stages of the process completed till yet.
It further said after hiring of consultancy firm, auction would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner in the presence of stakeholders and media, as already directed by the prime minister.
Press briefing would also be held on a regular basis once the auction process starts after hiring of consultants.
Auction process would be documented properly. The PTA would take every possible measure to ensure that the auction is conducted in a fair and transparent manner.
Talking to Dawn, a senior official of the PTA told Dawn, the process for 3G licences couldn’t move from the stage of hiring consultants. In a recently held ASC meeting for selection of consultants, it couldn’t find a suitable consultant for the auction.
However, industry insiders believe the government is deliberately dragging its feet on auction of 3G licences under pressure from telephone companies already operating in the market.
Finance although wasn’t available for his comment, he had on record expressed his frustration with slow working of the ASC.