Telecom Industry and its rapid development in Pakistan for the past three decades despite turbulent times has been a success story in terms of attracting FDI, providing jobs, supporting other sectors (such as commerce, transport, education, health, Women Empowerment etc.) and importantly providing transparency & efficiency in the working of the Government and the Private Sector. However, all this good work now seems to be hitting a wall as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started various inquiries that have infuriated the Telecom Industry for reasons that most industry experts have termed irrational especially regulatory decisions that are industry norm and standard practice for almost two decades such as Technology Neutrality.
Inquiries on Industry Norms & Regulatory Standard Practice for Almost Two Decades such as Technology Neutrality has Infuriated Telecom Industry-could set Industry Development Clock Backward
The Industry experts feel that NAB has been ill-advised to pursue such inquiries whereas others are of the opinion this is being done with some other mala-fide intentions. Most of these fingers do point towards Frequency Allocation Board (FAB), which reportedly played in creating much of the chaos. The Industry is also pointing towards the questionable appointment of the Executive Director without following any process of merit. Whatever it may be, it surely will bring disrepute to NAB and the country. This could cause more harm to the industry in days to come causing delay to the much-awaited license renewals and the ambition of 5G introduction in the country by 2020 setting the industry development clock backward.
While inquiry on Warid LTE upgradation has been going on for the past one year on PTA current and retired officers, another NAB inquiry has started and notices have been served to other PTA officers on Ufone LTE network upgradation. Dawn newspaper reports that Ufone Management has now received a call-up notice from NAB in connection with their network upgradation.
The inquiries and notices served have shaken market confidence in the regulator and could bring the work of the industry to a grinding stop on important issues and the PTA officers have already approached Islamabad High Court on Technology Neutrality issue. Ufone also went to the IHC against NAB inquiry yesterday (14th May 2019) on the same subject.
Sensitivities of Foreign Companies to Such Inquiries are Taken Quite Seriously by the International Corporate World
The telco industry primarily owned by multinationals feels dejected as sensitivities of foreign companies to such inquiries which may be minor in our culture in Pakistan but are taken quite seriously by the International Corporate World and therefore have finally approached the courts for getting relief from the standoff- Let’s see what the court will decide?