No Delay would be Permitted for the auction of next-gen license

Planned auction of 3G / 4G licenses in Pakistan was somewhat jolted when Senate’s standing committee on Information Technology yesterday recommended to delay the auction since Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is yet to have its member technical.

Senate’s standing committee, chaired by Mr. Idrees Khan Safi, said that auction should be delayed till the appointment of third member of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Faisal Raza Abidi during the meeting said that he was the person who had opposed this auction in the time of PPP and now again he was of the view that such an important auction should not be held in a hurry.

It maybe recalled here that 3G licensees were initially planned for auction in 2009, however, the process was delayed several times due to several senseless reasons.

Anusha Rehman, Minister for State, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, straight away refused to the recommendation and said that auction will be completed by April 23rd, as per plans.

Committee was told that the Commission established by the government decided to re-advertise the slot of third member of PTA because only two applications were received for this position. Now a firm has been hired for the process of short listing of applications and the hiring of third member of PTA.

Mr. Ikhlaq Tarar, secretary IT Ministry, informed the committee that, on directions from Supreme Court, the vacant post is temporarily occupied by the ministry of law secretary.

Tarar said that according to the PTA Reorganisation Act of 1996, majority members of the PTA are able to enforce decisions.

For those who don’t know, the auction process of 3G spectrum was expedited in August 2013 through a petition that was moved to Supreme Court. Petition had urged the court to order immediate auction of 3G licenses.

Apex court, during its adhoc decision, had said that no delay would be permitted for the auction of next-gen license. In fact it was Supreme Court of Pakistan that haddirected the government to appoint Chairman PTA at earliest so that the auction process of 3G licenses is started.

Government, however, kept delaying the appointment of Chairman PTA and waseventually warned by Supreme Court for the same.

It merits mentioning here that recommendations of Senate’s standing committee do not bear any legal standing. All the recommendations may or may not be incorporated by the government.

Authorities concerned confirmed ProPakistani that yesterday’s recommendations are not being considered by the government and that auction of next-gen licenses will be held as per announced plan.