After carrying on for six odd years, the dispute between the government and Etisalat – operator and majority stakeholder of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited – revolving around $800 million in unpaid dues is likely to be resolved soon.
Talking to The Express Tribune following her meeting with a high-level Etisalat delegation on Thursday, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said she had received ‘a positive response’ about the payment of the outstanding arrears to the government.
“Etisalat has shown its commitment to the government to clear the outstanding tranche in the shortest possible time,” she said, adding that the resolution of all outstanding issues was necessary to move forward in the IT and communications sectors.
“They [Etisalat] have faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expressed eagerness to resolve all issues,” Rehman said.
Though the visiting delegation has made no commitment as to when it will pay the outstanding amount, the minister said she was hopeful that this issue and others will be addressed within the next four weeks. According to sources, Rehman, during the meeting, expressed the desire to settle the issue within the next four to five weeks as well.
Etisalat has been holding on to the amount on two accounts. The telecom provider has been pressing the government to curb grey trafficking, on account of which the former has been losing millions of dollars annually. It also wants Pakistan to settle some disputes regarding the ownership of certain properties.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2013.
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