| GEO Business|
| No obligation exists to cede title of PTCL properties: Waqar|
| Updated at: 0836 PST, Wednesday, April 21, 2010|
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minster for Privatisation Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan said on Tuesday that there was no contractual obligation to transfer titles of the state-land where the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) offices stand to private investors.
“It was not our contractual obligation to transfer or mutate the property in the name of PTCL,” he said. “However, the government intends to facilitate them and has approached provinces, who have agreed to do it on 50 per cent rate,” the minister informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on IT & Telecommunication that met on Tuesday with Muhammad Barjees Tahir in chair.
The privatisation commission officials told The News that so far about 94 per cent of the land has been transferred to the PTCL.
The officials said that according to the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA), the government was required to provide clear titles of 100 per cent properties of PTCL (3,384 in number) by January 12, 2008.
A balance of 161 non-transferred properties, including 71 in Punjab and 45 in Sindh, remains outstanding. There are also private properties, which are under litigation and not under the control of federal or provincial governments, the officials said.
The government has so far been unable to resolve its issues with the UAE telecom giant Etisalat due to which, the latter has withheld $799 million privatisation proceeds.
The privatisation minister told National Assembly’s Committee that the present leadership would not compromise on transparency of the process. He assured that the matter would be resolved in an amicable manner and the government would get the $799 million, which were now over due.
The government since 2006 has received Rs26.95 billion dividend income, while Etisalat received Rs11.27 billion dividend income against its 26 per shareholding.
Last month, Senator Khan told the National Assembly that the privatisation of PTCL was not transparent and was made contrary to rules and procedures.
The house has also referred the subject matter to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation for probe.
Etisalat holds management control along with 26 per cent shares of PTCL, which was in 2006 for $2.6 billion.
The UAE firm has withheld the payment, saying that the government has failed to transfer properties in Punjab and Sindh provinces to the new management.
Although official quarters maintain that SPA requires the government to provide clear titles of 100 per cent of PTCL properties, Senator Khan urged the members of the Committee to form their opinion and recommendations. “We are the custodians of the assets of the people of Pakistan and our mandate is to work for welfare of the people of Pakistan.” he said.
He further informed that the then Minister highlighted all the irregularities committed during the privatisation process of PTCL and sent them to the Cabinet, which gave approval and validated the deal.
Earlier, the Chairman National Assembly’s Standing Committee Barjees Tahir observed that the country’s interest was not safeguarded in the PTCL deal.