ISLAMABAD - Pakistan still awaits over $800 million or Rs80 billion after outsourcing 26 per cent shares of Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd (PTCL) in 2005.

Under the agreement between the government and the buyer (Etisalat), a UAE-based telecom giant, the buyer had to pay the total amount of 2.5 billion dollars by 2010.

The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that the total outstanding amount against M/s Etisalat was around Rs80 billion with Finance Minister Ishaque Dar saying the company was refusing to pay the amount as it wants the entire properties of PTCL to be transferred in the name of Etisalat.

Under the agreement struck between the buyer and then Minister for Privatization Dr Hafeez Shaikh in 2005, the buyer would pay the remaining amount once the federal government transfers all PTCL-owned properties/infrastructure in provinces in the name of Etisalat.

The lower house was informed that as many as 3248 properties across the country had to be transferred to Etisalat and informed that till to-date 3214 properties had been transferred to Etisilat while the remaining 34 per cent would be transferred soon.

The minister who has already visited UAE several times in order to persuade Etisalat to pay the outstanding amount, has so far failed to get a penny as the buyer has conditioned the payment with transfer of the entire PTCL-owned properties after the purchaser.

According to sources, some PTCL-owned properties in cantonment areas could not be transferred after Etisalat due to security reasons although Ishaq Dar has succeeded in directing chief ministers of the four provinces to transfer the properties to the purchaser.

The government sold 26 per cent of PTCL shares to the UAE telecom giant for $2.59 billion with management rights. Etisalat paid $1.799 billion and withheld the remaining $799.3.4 million arguing the government has not transferred the properties to the purchaser as per the agreement. Under the share purchase agreement (SPA), the payment of the balance amount was contingent upon transfer of clean and clear titles of 3,248 properties by January 2008 but the government failed to hand over the infrastructure to the buyer.

This will be the third consecutive government in case the outstanding money against the Etisilat is not recovered. Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Yousuf Raza Gillani too failed to recover the money generated by outsourcing state-run PTCL.

According to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the issue obstructing the payment was transfer of the remaining 34 properties to Etisalat which had to be done by January 2008 as per the original agreement between the government and the buyer.

The SPA was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation on March 11, 2006, and by the cabinet on April 11 the same year. The government argued that some properties could not be transferred to Etisalat timely because of litigation cases.

The federal government has paid payments to provinces by doling out money from national exchequer in order to transfer the properties of PTCL to Estilat to what a finance ministry official said was another burden on national kitty.