ISLAMABAD - Coming down hard on officials of Finance and Information Technology Ministries over the delay in Third Generation (3G) technology licences, Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has directed these two ministries to complete the process by March 2013.

While chairing a meeting on Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC), the Finance Minister went down hard on the officials of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Information Technology over the much delay in auctioning the 3G licences. Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has asked the officials to complete this process by March 2013, as this already been delayed in last several years and economy is facing lost due to this delay.

The Finance Minister further directed to ensure to achieve transparency in this multi-billion-dollar 3G auction process transaction. The government is expecting to receive $800 million (approximately equal of Rs 80 billion) through the auction of 3G licences within the ongoing financial year 2012-13 that would help the government for financing the budget deficit.

Sources said that Finance Ministry is reportedly disappointed at the pace of 3G auction of licences in the current fiscal year as the regulator and Ministry of Information Technology (IT) have took five months to hire the consultant.

It is worth mentioning here that government was failed to hold the auction of 3G spectrum licences in last fiscal year 2011-12, which was scheduled on March 29 owing to delay in hiring of consultancy firm. Later, the deadline set by the government for auction of 3G technologies by end of December 2012 could not also be achieved. The government so far failed to finalise the exact date for auctioning of 3G licences.

Sources further said that due to delay in 3G auction, the national exchequer had faced losses of Rs 22-25 billion so far. The 3G is a category of next generation mobile networks that operates at a higher frequency and at larger channel bandwidth to support very high data rates of up to 4mbps. With the 3G in place, mobile phone users would be able to enjoy video chat, along with high-speed internet facility.