ISLAMABAD  -    Pakistan hopes to resolve 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).

“A high level delegation of Etisalat Company recently visited Pakistan wherein it had showed interest to resolve the issue of pending amount,” said an official of the privatisation commission. The company had agreed with Pakistan’s point of view of deducting amount of 34 non-transferred properties, he added. Pakistan had transferred more than 3000 properties of PTCL in favour of Etisalat but it could not transfer only 34 properties due to multiple issues, he explained.

The Etisalat would make the valuation of the pending properties, which would be deducted from pending amount. Pakistan had to recover $800 million from UAE-based telecom since 2005 but three successive governments had failed to resolve the issue. The previous PML-N government had transferred a large of properties in favour of Etisalat. The official informed that according to Pakistan’s assessment the value of the pending 34 properties was not more than $88 million. However, the Etisalat had refused to accept the prices of properties by saying prices are very low. Now the Etisalat is working for revaluation of the properties of PTCL, he informed.

The officials of the Privatization Commission had recently informed a parliamentary committee that the government is actively working to recover $800 million from UAE based company by resolving the pending issues.

The Etisalat had defaulted on $800 million it owed Pakistan on account of privatization proceeds of PTCL. 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. However, the Senate body was briefed that the properties on the ground were only 3,248 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. Etisalat is working for revaluation of the properties of PTCL. The committee was told that Etisalat would take some time to finalize its own valuation of the 34 outstanding properties.