ISLAMABAD - The International Clearing House (ICH) that was established in the time of previous government cost the country at least Rs 400 billion.

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman Wednesday informed the upper house that legal traffic that stood at around two billion minutes per month before introduction of ICH regime, dropped to around 400 million minutes per month by September 2014. Taking the 2 billion minutes as benchmark, ICH regime caused a loss of around 45.4 billion international call minutes to telecom sector, translating into around loss of Rs 400 billion.  

Advocating the abolishment of ICH regime by the present government, Anusha informed the house that after the removal of ICH the present traffic of calls landing in the country was recorded as 852 million minutes that is more than double of the figure recorded when the ICH was intact.

The minister recalled that the regime, a consortium of Long Distance International (LDI) operators formed to terminate all international traffic through a single gateway exchange at a fixed rate of US Cent 8.8 per month, was introduced by previous government in August 2012. The ICH policy created so many troubles for the country as the arrangement was illegal. To solve this, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a high level Steering Committee to look into the issue of grey traffic which determined the ICH regime to be one of the main causes behind increase in grey traffic. And finally ICH policy was removed and the decision also was recommended by Pakistan Telecom Authority.