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PTCL to be sold only if bid covered Rs 32 billion revenue: minister

ISLAMABAD (February 20 2003) : Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari on Wednesday said that the government would only divest Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) if a bid is offered covering its annual Rs 32 billion revenue.

Talking to newsmen after a detailed visit of the Ghulam Ishaq Institute of Technology at Topi district Swabi, NWFP, he said that the PTCL provided the government Rs 19.5 billion in the form of profit and Rs 12 billion in taxes.

He said that in the March cabinet meeting, the Telecom Deregulation Policy would be presented for approval.

The process of the PTCL privatisation would start after the approval of the policy. However, the divestment of company would only take place when it renders the government such big revenue.

If such huge amount of government revenue was covered annually from any privatisation deal then the government could think of its privatisation, he added.

It has already been reported that the State Bank profit of Rs 26 billion has been eroded and the government corporations have been contributing Rs 90 billion annual loss to the exchequer.

Any further loss from the government corporations/companies would be unaffordable in the current tight fiscal situation, Awais said.

The minister also said that the company was not inefficient and it needed improvement.

If it were not privatised then the government would focus on to improve its efficiency and services, he added.

Concerning the regularisation of the PTCL daily wages employees, he said that a study of its financial implications was underway which upon completion would be sent to the cabinet for final decision.

Regarding the IT sector development, he said that a lot was to be done.

All the existing work was on infrastructure development and the employment and income generation work was not focused.

A large number of institutes have been set up but the outcome was not very promising.

While referring to the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), which was headed by a government sector joint secretary, he said it should be run by some private sector professional.

On IT accreditation council, the ministry has written a letter to the Higher Education Commission, formerly known as the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The government would set up 3,000 IT schools with the help of the funds contributed by each federal and provincial government.

Balochistan and NWFP have shown their commitments but Punjab and Sindh have not responded, but hopefully they would reply soon to start the project.

To a question, he replied that the government would help the institute in importing any laboratory machinery, which companies of developed nations were not permitting after September 11 events.

Talking about the facilities at the institute, he said, the institute would be connected to the Pakistan Educational and Research Network (Pern) where thy would be on a broadband 155 megabits/second optical fiber backbone linking other universities together and to the universities outside Pakistan.

Later, Professor Dr Mohammad Naseer Khan presented the minister a souvenir of the university.

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