Going, going…: PTA postpones 3G licence auction

Published: March 9, 2012

Regulator could not get cabinet clearance to avoid competitive bidding rules . DESIGN: ALI DARAB

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has put off the much-trumpeted auction of 3G spectrum licence following failure to get clearance from the cabinet to ignore competitive bidding rules in a bid to complete the process on schedule.

“The current schedule of mobile cellular auction is under review. Fresh dates will be posted in due course of time,” read a brief statement posted on Thursday on the website of PTA – the telecom regulator that was assigned the task to complete the auction process by the end of March.

Along with 3G, the auction of Instaphone licence has also been postponed and fresh dates have not been announced.

The PTA move came just a day before the end of the deadline for submitting expressions of interest for three 3G (Third Generation) licences.

PTA had set March 26 for the auction of Instaphone licence while for 3G auction the date was March 29.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had launched the auction schedule on January 20 in his capacity as chairman of the Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC).

Parliamentary panels have already raised questions over the transparency in the auction process. And the postponement is also in violation of directives given by the Cabinet Committee on 3G Auction.

In its last meeting on February 24, the committee told PTA that “the process must be conducted as per policy directives of December 19 and the auction be carried out in two to three months”.

In addition to this, if the licences are not sold this fiscal year ending June 30, the government will find it difficult to restrict its budget deficit, which will increase by 0.35 per cent or Rs75 billion, the target amount for 3G auction.

The first sign of missing the deadline emerged when PTA invited applications for hiring an international consultant by March 26 – just two days before the first auction of Instaphone licence.

The applications were invited quite late as PTA had completed three-fourth of the required work, said an official of the finance ministry. However, PTA alone cannot be blamed for the delay.

According to official documents, ASC committee chairman Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had on January 6 endorsed the PTA proposal to auction the licence without hiring any consultant.

However, industry people later advised the PTA chairman not to take any responsibility and follow the set procedure to ensure transparency, said one of the three people who were informally approached by the PTA chairman to seek advice.

“Neither the government nor the regulator met requirements to ensure transparency that eventually led to the delay in auction,” said the industry expert on condition of anonymity.

Though PTA Chairman Dr Muhammad Yaseen invited applications to hire a consultant, at the same time he made few attempts to seek the cabinet and prime minister’s nod for exemption from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules to directly appoint a consultant.

Despite repeated attempts, the PTA chairman was not available for comments.

Later, in a last ditch effort, the PTA chairman tried to invoke the emergency clause of PPRA rules, but he could not succeed in this too and was left with no option but to postpone the auction.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Mar 9, 2012 - 7:14AM

    I don’t think anyone is surprised. This administration is one of the most incompetent ones ever. They can’t do anything on time.

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Mar 9, 2012 - 10:38AM

    If I am not wrong, world is going 4G and we still cant process 3G.

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  • Amir
    Mar 9, 2012 - 11:43AM

    Just for information, India is going to auction 4G licenses this year.

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  • ahsan
    Mar 9, 2012 - 12:32PM

    i haven’t seen any incompetent administration of PTA than this….they can’t do any single thing without creating mess

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  • Mar 9, 2012 - 1:00PM

    And the postponement is also in violation of directives given by the Cabinet Committee on 3G Auction.

    The directives of the Cabinet Committee are not the Law and Constitution. Due process and fair play must be enforced.

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  • Joy
    Mar 9, 2012 - 2:44PM

    @ Amir

    ” Just for information, India is going to auction 4G licenses this year.”

    Just one correctiion….4G services will be launched in India on March 21st..and it will be done by Bharti Airtel in the city of Kolkatta…….

    regards
    Joy
    India

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  • Joy
    Mar 9, 2012 - 2:48PM

    @ Amir,
    In fact 4G services will roll out in India on March 21st.The first city to get the service will be Kolkata and it will be started by Bharti Airtel…

    regards
    Joy
    India

    Recommend

  • Suleyman
    Mar 9, 2012 - 3:28PM

    they are planning to auction in may or june 2012 and they are also planning to auction 3g, 4G and LTE. LTE is more faster than 4G…… But we never expect anything from our poor govt. administration..

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  • Sikander
    Mar 9, 2012 - 4:10PM

    PTA trying to directly appoint independent consultant and bypass competitive bidding clearly states their intention to do corruption and make commission. No one should have any doubt that the cabinet did not approve, not because they want it to be fair, but because they want their piece of the pie. A few months later when Cabinet and PTA agree on who gets what and what amount gets kicked back to El-Presidente then PTA will be allowed to bypass same rules citing cause of delay and heavy commissions will be made.

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  • Mar 9, 2012 - 4:10PM

    You can’t expect the same efficiency u saw in Musharraf era from these good for themselves idiotic rulers. Accept it or not, we have seen and abandoned the best possible for Pakistan. Now these democracy champions are there to full their pockets nd nothing else. What Musharraf could have done 3 years ago, they still can’t. Mush had auctioned 6 licenses for billions. They can’t auction 1 even offering lower prices! Shame, we still stay blinded..

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  • Ali Warraich
    Mar 9, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Thsi action will delay the on going activities in the telecomunication. being a part of vendor, already we have installed 3G sites. Zong has swaped the 2G sites with 3G supported sites. and its ready for the 3G. same is the case with Mobilink. Ufone will take some time. All operators were expecting the 3G licence this year. This decision from PTA will delay all the telecom activities. and it will be a set back for most of the investors in the market.

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  • ameena
    Mar 10, 2012 - 10:28PM

    Ironically, uneconomic decisions are made by incompetent people without facing any consequences. The good faith doctrine needs to be confronted by experts of telecom objecting to government’s indecisiveness and delays in handling key economic matters in the most idiotic manner. I would request all telecom experts to raise their concerns through print and electronic media!

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  • Farooq Rashid
    Mar 11, 2012 - 3:26PM

    O please people don’t be so disappointe.
    Pakistan is not that behind in technology Alhamdolilah
    We have yet to see what’s 4G in uk. And Ive heard it’s not coming before 2013
    And if u thing present govt is currupt, here is link at bottom Vodafone has dodge tax of £6bn in uk. So the all keen voda is not the company of saints. Living in uk and what we seen here is backward ppl who are happy to see a very slow free wifi hotspot in capital, or in airports.

    Lets hope PTA has some patriots and naik sharerf ppl at top like of dr Atta ur Rehman who was once IT MAN of Pakistan.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11658950

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  • Amir Mustafa
    Mar 12, 2012 - 2:01PM

    Has anybody realized that whether 3G’s business case justify Pakistani market? PTA and government is just interested in revenue without realizing that telecom companies will have to spend huge amount of capital just to increase the existing systems, the industry which is also under a tremendous pressure while dealing increasing power tariffs, fuel hike, loadshedding, taxes etc.
    Government is only interested in revenue having come what may policy. It is interesting that senators had reservations on the price!! i wish our Parliament and senators can have some decent info on telecom before making such rash decisions.

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  • May 2, 2012 - 9:53AM

    Blockquote

    Blockquote> Thsi action will delay the on going activities in the telecomunication. being a part of vendor, already we have installed 3G sites. Zong has swaped the 2G sites with 3G supported sites. and its ready for the 3G. same is the case with Mobilink. Ufone will take some time. All operators were expecting the 3G licence this year. This decision from PTA will delay all the telecom activities. and it will be a set back for most of the investors in the market.Blockquote

    Blockquote

    I agree with you that there will be delay and some how disturbance with on going activities but the base of new technology in Pakistan is more important.

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