ISLAMABAD - Much-awaited auction of 3G licence is likely to be affected badly as two responsible slots are still lying vacant in the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom despite passing one year ostensibly due to slackness and negligence of the government. 

Viewing the important role of member telecom and director wireless pertain to tap as much as $1-1.5 billion through the auction of spectrum for next generation mobile services in Pakistan (including 3G and advanced generations) during the present fiscal year (FY) 2013-14, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom in a summary sent to the Prime Minister secretariat in past September 11 had asked to allow the appointment on two important vacant slots lying vacant from last one year. But, high-ups at Prime Minister Secretariat have so far kept mum on the matter of said vacant posts. Both responsible slots while being the representatives of federal government have important role along with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) with regard to the much-awaited auction of the third generation (3G) mobile spectrum licencing. However, so far the PM secretariat has not allowed filling the important slots of various departments like of IT & Telecom Ministry despite the advertisements of posting from the concerned departments, well informed official sources told on Tuesday.

Following the approval of Prime Minister and issuance of policy directive regarding “Spectrum Auction for Next Generation Mobile Services in Pakistan” to PTA on 7th October 2013 from Ministry of IT, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, entrusted with a task to carry out the auction in the most transparent manner in the shortest possible time and hire the consultants, in a bid to expedite the next generation spectrum auction process had so far released advertisement to the international media for the hiring of international consultant to auction the available spectrum. And, the interested consultant/companies/consortia/groups/firms are asked to submit proposals as per parameters laid down in RFP before 12:30 p.m. on November 12.

According to the issued Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire consultancy services for much-awaited auction of next-generation telecom licenses (3G) of PTA, the regulatory authority, in its request, had sought to engage services of internationally reputed consultant for the purpose, who would assist on all steps necessary in making conduct of auction a success in terms of marketing valuation and process design in order to provide maximum value to the client.

The PTA said the consultant should have mobile cellular licence/ spectrum auctions along with relevant financial economic, technical, legal and regulatory experience while it should also have expertise of spectrum valuation, spectrum auction design and process management for Next Generation Mobile (3G and advanced) technologies services and concluding transactions of similar nature.

The sources were of the view that responsibilities of professional member telecom and director wireless are very significant if compare their role with the roles of the committee members in the process of hiring of consultants and evaluation of bids. However, leaving the significant matter of auction of 3G licence in the hands of acting director telecom Yasir Qadir, who is running the affairs on ad hoc basis, is not in Pakistan’s benefit. Qadir, to them, is not capable fulfil the responsible task as he has no relevant professional experience but is serving on the responsible slot. Qadir was handpicked by former Secretary MoIT Farooq Awan during the PPP government’s tenure through the direct intervention of the then minister in charge Raja Pervaiz Ashraf although his (Qadir) previous experience was with the information broadcasting regulator which was even not related to the job requirements.

When contacted with a spokesman of IT & Telecom Ministry to get the stance of ministry, Kamran told TheNation that so far ministry has not received the approval of Prime Minister to fill said key slots significant to materialise the process of much-awaited 3G licence. He also said, “When we will receive the response from the premier, the ministry will be able to give vacancy announcement advertisement in the media.  Over a question, the spokesman said this arrangement was made to fill the slot but on ad hoc basis as Yasir Qadir is a director in the ministry while premier’s nod is necessary to give appointments in the ministry on the senior slots.

Earlier an advisory committee was constituted by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under the chairmanship of federal minister for finance to expedite and finalise the much delayed auction process of third generation (3G) mobile spectrum licence. The committee is comprised of Ms. Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan, Minister of State for Information Technology & Telecom, Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar, Secretary (IT & Telecom), Syed Ismail Shah, interim chairman PTA etc.