Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication was informed Thursday that around 40,000 pensioners of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) have been issued proforma to determine payable amount and other details in respect of pension benefits.
“Billions of rupees are required to settle pensioners matters. The pensioners are being paid pensions but the issue is settlement of increase in their pension.”
Minister of State for IT, Mrs. Anusha Rahman said.
The meeting, chaired by Senator Shahi Syed was also informed that till 2010, the pension increases announced by Federal government were adopted by Pakistan Telecommunication Employees Trust (PTET) (agreed by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited) without any modification.
However, the Federal government announced an unusual 20 per cent increase in pension in 2010, which was not applied by PTET Board to all the pensioners, keeping in view of applicable legal framework.
Billions of Rupees Required to Settle PTCL Pensioners Issue, IT Body Informed
The meeting was attended by Senators including Rehman Malik, Mrs. Najma Hameed, Gianchand, Taj Muhammad Afridi, Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi and Syed Shibli Faraz, Secretary IT, Azmat Ali Ranjha, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Dr. Ismail Shah and representatives of Special Communication Organization (SCO), Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), Universal Service Fund (USF) and National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC).
Senator Rehman Malik said retired employees tirelessly pursued the case of non-payment of their pensions and Supreme Court had finally helped the retired employees by ordering PTCL to clear all dues.
Anusha Rahman said now PTET, Federation of Pakistan and PTCL have file review applications in Supreme Court where the preliminary proceedings were held on October 21. The next date of hearing in the matter is November 10.
All the Committee members present in the meeting emphasized settlement of this matter on priority as per employees-favourable verdict of Supreme Court.
In response to a point regarding telephony services in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Minister said USF has already completed its data collection to assess situation of existing telecom infrastructure and related services in FATA. She said as per estimates 1575 Mauzas, having population of 100 or higher, are unserved in different parts of FATA, subsequently USF has designed some projects.
The meeting was informed that the reasons for project delay in FATA was due to security situation as operators are reluctant to go in these areas.
With regard to matter of tax collection from telecom operators in the country, a representative of FBR informed that forensic audit of cellular companies would be conducted while provincial finance departments have also been engaged to make the system of collection more effective and strong.
Chairman PTA said telecom sector is the major contributor of taxes to national exchequer and it has been paying huge amount of taxes to government regularly.
On a matter of grey telephony, Secretary IT informed the meeting that proactive measures adopted during last two years are bearing fruits as the legal (white) traffic has reached 1.5 billion minutes per month from mere 390 million a year ago.
He said Ministry of IT had reviewed International Clearing House (ICH) which resulted in massive improvement in legal traffic from aborad. This has also helped increase in revenue generation through taxes for the government. Besides, he said PTA also adopted measures to control grey trafficking which causes revenue losses to national kitty.
On another matter regarding inclusion of FATA under SCO, Azmat Ali Ranjha said mandate provided by telecom Act does not include FATA in SCO’s area of jurisdiction. However, a summary has been sent to Ministry of Law and Justice for legal opinion. SCO’s representatives said they are prepared and awaiting formal approval.
Similarly, on issue of fraudulent mobile messages, Dr. Ismail said PTA time to time has carried out extensive media campaigns to aware general public to be alert of false monetary wins through prize schemes or social welfare programmes.
Anusha Rahman said punishment on spamming has been proposed in draft Cyber Crimes bill.
She assured the meeting that contracts period of 122 employees working in three schools and a hospital of Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP), Haripur would be extended. She said the TIP is a non-functional organization and has been included in Privatization Commission list.