A parliamentary panel on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to settle internal squabbling that has been delaying the auction of third-generation (3G) mobile services in the country.
“Do not take any action against those who have expressed their concerns to the prime minister over the process,” advised Barjees Tahir, the head of the IT standing committee.
Members (technical) Dr Khawar Siddique Khokhar and Nasrul Karim Ghaznavi, whose endorsement is crucial for the finalisation of the Information Memorandum (IM), shared the view that the PTA did not include the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the hiring process of international consultants.
In response, PTA Chairman Farooq Ahmed Awan referred to sections 3(8) and 10(2)(c) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act of 1996 and Regulation 115 of the PTA Employees Service Regulation of 2008.
“The chairman is empowered enough to hire consultants,” he said. Ministry of IT Secretary Tariq Zaman Khan endorsed Awan’s view that the PTA chairman has the power to hire a consultant for a specific time period without consulting other members of the authority.
Awan also informed the committee that he had thoroughly briefed the NAB. In addition, the PTA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), which will carefully observe the entire 3G auction process.
At this, Tahir said that instead of engaging a private organisation like the TIP, the PTA should address its internal differences.
The committee also expressed concern over the PTA’s failure to reach a consensus among the members over the auction process.
It directed the authority to hold a meeting soon to resolve the issue of hiring a consultant and recommended that the federal minister be replaced with upright MPs such as like Mir Munawar Talpur of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Furthermore, the committee strongly criticised the role of the Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC) for causing unnecessary delay in the 3G auction and recommended that the mandate of auction be limited to the PTA for effective accountability.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2012.
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