The much delayed Telecom Policy has finally been approved by the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) on 11th December, 2015 as reported by MoITT. The policy that sets Government Direction for the future of Telecoms in Pakistan has finally seen the light of the day as the first draft of policy was approved by the ECC. The ECC met with Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar to consider the draft of Telecom policy submitted by the Ministry of Information Technology. It took over two years for the Ministry of Information Technology, to finally have managed to present the draft of the telecom policy that it made available for public consultations to the ECC for approval. It is important to note here that the last ICT policy was made for 5 years in 2003 and was due to be reviewed in 2008.
Delayed Telecom Policy Finally Approved by ECC
The policy approval although an appreciable step has been delayed without any valid reason and the MoITT on and off kept telling public for over months and years that it is working to formulate a harmonious policy for the smooth running of entire industry and the document will be out soon. The work started back in 2013, whereby an international consultant was hired for reviewing and integrating the various ICT policies made by previous governments; an initiative that was taken in collaboration with the World Bank which also provided a grant of USD 0.5 million for the said purpose. The draft made by the World Bank consultants was circulated and made available for public consultation for quite some time on the MoITT website. However, despite criticism that it shall include IT Sector Policy reforms as well the policy remained focused on Telecom. It is very strange phenomenon that while the Global ICT industry has moved towards convergence of policies, our Ministry of IT & Telecom has done just the opposite. Strangely, even the World Bank overpriced consultants hired for the job failed to highlight this to the Government.
According to experts ICT progress is a catalyst in turning the economic wheel and shall make the overall socio-economic condition better for Pakistan; finally this pertinent issue has been partially realized by the Ministry. Anyways, it is always never too late, the MoITT shall incorporate the IT Sector Policy reforms now either as an addendum or work aggressively to have a Document that amalgamates with the Telecom Policy. Some in the industry also blames the IT Associations that has not able to play a very positive role in campaign for the development of ICT Policy.