ISLAMABAD - The Senate witnessed a great hue and cry on Tuesday after a PML-N senior legislator Pervez Rasheed informed the House that PTA was all set to auction 3G, 4G and LTE etc mobile cellular licence/spectrum at meagre rates and, what he termed, it would be another biggest scam in the country.

Pervez Rasheed on a point of order while quoting an advertisement published in the national press on behalf of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that the Authority had fixed the base price of 3G, 4G and LTE etc mobile phone licence/ spectrum at 320 million US dollars to for auction that was very low as compared to the price of 2G licences, already sold by the it. “PTA has already sold 2G licences at the price of 290 million US dollars and it is strange the base price of the next and latest technology has been fixed low than the previous one,” he added.

Pervez Rasheed termed that a biggest scam in the country was in the offing after Haj, rental power projects (RPPs) etc. He said that according to the terms and conditions published in the advertisement it was also strange the licence would be technology neutral. “It means that the successful bidder company would also be able to introduce further technology after 4G in the country without paying any extra money,” he explained. He said that on the other hand, India had sold out its 4 G licence in 24 billion US dollars that is 5th time bigger country than them and PTA had fixed its base price only at the rate of 210 million US dollars. He also made it clear that the successful bidder company would pay the half money in equal installments in five years and that meant it would earn from here and pay it to the government.

Many lawmakers, both from the treasury as well as opposition benches including Ilyas Balour, Haji Adeel Ahmed and Professor Khurshid Ahmed endorsing PML-N lawmaker urged the chair that it should give a ruling to stay the matter at this moment to avoid further embarrassment at international level.

Senator Haroon Akhtar opposed the other lawmakers saying that the chair should not stay the matter as the national exchequer needed 800 million US dollars from the sale of these licenses and the amount had already been specified in the form of income in the federal budget. He also said that any delay in the matter would cause further problems for the government and resultantly would increase inflation in the country. He, at the same time, proposed that the matter should be scrutinised thoroughly.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik proposed that the House should constitute a committee including members both from the treasury and opposition sides to investigate the matter. However, the chair referred the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on IT that will summon chairman PTA and Federal Minister for Information Technology to have their viewpoint on the issue.

Earlier, Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar while answering queries of the senators informed the House that the government was not going to charge the amount of interest on power sector loans from the power consumers. “ Now new interest rate is being imposed on the consumers while it would be reduced,” he added. He said that previously power producer companies got loans from foreign companies at higher rates and now they would directly get loans from the banks at reduced rates and ECC in its last meeting had given some proposal in this regard. He said the consumers already pay the amount of interests on power sector loans. About inflated rates of fuel price adjustment (FPA) being included in the electricity bills, the minister said that the new rates had been adjusted from 45 per matric ton to 65 per matric ton. He also informed the House that 3200 MW electricity had been added to the national grid while due to non-payment of bills, the circular debts had increased manifold.

About the issues of Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), he said that its management should honour the agreements made with the government and the workers. He said that the management had assured the government that no employee would be retrenched and the government would take up the case with the company.

Earlier, the lawmakers including Mian Raza Rabbani, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, Professor Ibrahim, Tahir Mashhadi, Ilays Balour, Haji Adeel Ahmed and Ismail Buledi had raised the issues of inflated bills, the imposition of FPA and amount of interests on the electricity and the mismanagement issues of KESC on the floor of the House.

Islamuddin Sheikh, Chief Whip in the Upper House while responding to a privilege motion of Professor Khurshid Ahmed assured the House that the four annual reports including of CCI, NFC and NEC would be tabled in the House during the next session. The mover insisted the chair that it should censure the government over the delay in the presentation of reports before the House that was a constitutional requirement. However, the chair ruled that the government should table the four report soon the first day of the next session otherwise action would be taken against the responsible ones.