Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed Advisor Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to approach United Arab Emirates (UAE) government for payment of remaining $ 800 million from M/s Etisalat, well-informed sources revealed.
These directions were issued at a meeting of the economic team where different issues relating to the economy came under discussion. Dr. Hafeez Shaikh held the portfolio of Privatization Minister when 26 percent PTCL shares and management control were sold to M/s Etisalat.
Originally a 100 percent state-owned corporation, the shareholding of government-owned PTCL was reduced to 62 percent after 26 percent shares and control were sold to Etisalat Telecommunications while the remaining 12 percent was sold to the general public in 2006 under an intensified privatization program during the tenure of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Advisor Finance & Revenue to Approach Etisalat For Remaining $ 800M
Last year, Asad Umer while presiding over a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) decided to sell remaining shares of PTCL. However, the decision has not yet been implemented.
Etisalat has withheld $799.3 million on account of non-transference of some PTCL properties in Sindh and Punjab to PTCL.
PTCL was privatised through sale of 26 percent shares for $2,598,960,000.00, to be paid in nine equal installments, payable on biannual basis. As per Share Purchase Agreement (SPA), GoP is required to provide clean title of 100 percent of PTCL properties (3384 in number) by January 12, 2008. Payment of balance sum of $1.198 billion was contingent upon transferring all titles to properties in question.
Three further installments of $133,000,000 ($133 million) were paid by the buyer upon transfer of the corresponding number of properties. In the event of non fulfillment of this obligation, GoP is obliged to nominate a list of non-transferred properties to the buyer where after GoP and buyer will separately appoint property valuators to determine the value of such properties. The valuations have been procured.
Following such valuations, the buyer had the option to surrender its right to the use of non-transferred properties and deduct the estimated value from balance payments or withhold such payments till the titles to the properties are transferred.
In order to ensure timely completion of the transfer of title and possession of the properties in question, GoP constituted a steering committee headed by Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology, (who is also Chairman of the PTCL Board of Directors).
However, a balance of 161 non-transferred properties (including 71 in Punjab and 45 in Sindh) remain outstanding and consequently, the installments ($133.218 million each), due on March 12, 2008 and September 12, 2008 were withheld by the buyer. Etisalat had paid a total of $1.799 billion and the balance of $799.3 million remains, which Etisalat intends to adjust against the value of non-transferred properties.
Previous administrations have raised this issue at the highest level with UAE rulers but no final agreement has been reached.