ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication was informed on Wednesday that country is losing $20 million per month due to menace of grey trafficking in the country.

Senator Idrees Safi chaired the meeting where Chairman PTA Farooq Awan informed the committee that to eliminate the grey trafficking in the country PTA initiated International Clearing House (ICH) however LHC in his order suspended it and this matter has been delayed. He said that in absence of ICH, long distance international operators pay meagre amount to the government over international calls.

He said that LDI operators are collecting more than 29 million dollars and only five to six million are deposited in the national exchequer while rest 23 million goes to company’s profit.

Chairman PTA said that US and Saudi Arabian embassies also pressurised the PTA to stop installation of international Clearing House in the country. Standing committee asked the Chairman PTA to provide maximum relief to overseas Pakistanis and at the same time take steps to add money to the national exchequer.

Standing committee showed concerns about increase in the taxes on international calls and directed PTA not to impose additional burden on expatriates. Secretary IT Amir Tariq Zaman and Chairman PTA clarified that no new tax has been imposed on overseas Pakistanis but implementation of Approve settlement Rate ASR that is 6.25 cents has been ensured and enforcement of ICH forced companies to pay standard charges so they increased charges.

Committee decided to hold a separate meeting over this issue because it is a serious issue regarding the national interests. Senators directed chairman PTA and Secretary IT to not to give full authority to LDI operators because few of them are already defaulters.  Senator Zahid Khan said that ministry should make new consortium regarding establishment of ICH and involvement of LDI operators in it.  Secretary told that 40 to 50 million dollar would be spent to establish ICH in the country.

Standing committee directed Secretary IT Amir Tariq Zaman to give all the details regarding recruitment criteria of Chairman PTA and CEO USF that under which conditions these posts are filled. Committee asked to give details that under which conditions Ex CEO USF was removed from his post.

During the meeting senator Faisal Raza Abidi said that country is facing billion of rupees loss in grey trafficking and ministry is not taking sufficient steps. He said that politicians should come forward to sort out this issue before the suo moto notice of Supreme Court over the issue.

Standing committee also directed Chairman PTA to strictly follow the provincial quota in the department and fill the provincial deficiencies where they are.

Legislative body also directed Secretary IT to do amendments in Pakistan telecommunication act and include FATA in the jurisdiction of Special Communication Organization (SCO).