ISLAMABAD    -     Pakistan has decided to make fresh attempt for resolving more than 14-year pending issue with UAE-based telecom firm Etisalat for recovering due amount of $800 million against the privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

Pakistan had to recover $800 million from UAE-based telecom since 2005 but three successive governments had failed to resolve the issue. In July 2005, Etisalat had bought 26% shares in PTCL with management control at a price of $2.6 billion. After coming to know the second lowest bid was actually $1.4 billion, the UAE-based firm tried to backtrack from the offer. In March 2006, the then government signed an agreement with Etisalat under which 3,384 properties of the PTCL had to be handed over to the company. Etisalat had paid $1.4 billion upfront payment against privatisation of PTCL in 2005-06. However, it had stopped the remaining instalments amounting to $800m until the status of PTCL’s owned properties was cleared, which has remained a bone of contention for the last 12 years.

In a latest development, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has called for an early resolution of all outstanding issues regarding the PTCL privatisation with Etisalat and asked the stakeholders to finalise proposals on the subject within the next couple of weeks. He made this statement while chairing an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the Prime Minister to discuss and resolve the issues related to the PTCL Privatisation. Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Secretary Finance, Secretary Privatisation, Secretary Information Technology & Telecommunication and other senior officials were also present.

During the meeting, the Adviser was given a detailed briefing on the issues concerning the transfer of properties to Etisalat and the pending payments still to be made by Etisalat. The Adviser called for greater efforts to resolve the outstanding issues in a smooth and amicable manner and asked the government team to contact the senior management of Etisalat to listen to their viewpoint and decide the unresolved issues at the earliest as any further delay was not in the interest of both the parties.

The government had so far transferred 3,248 in favour of Etisalat while 34 properties could not be transferred. Pakistan had informed the company that it cannot transfer the remaining 34 properties and that it would have to pay the outstanding dues by adjusting the value of these properties. According to Pakistan’s assessment the value of these properties was not more than $88 million. However, the Etisalat had not accepted the Pakistan’s offer in past.