Ignoring opposition from the provinces, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took a major policy decision and transferred the administrative control of five key regulatory bodies to the respective ministries, apparently compromising their relative independence under the cabinet division.
“In terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business, 1973 the prime minister has been pleased to transfer control of following regulatory authorities from cabinet division to the divisions mentioned against below each name,” said a notification.
With this development, PTA Pakistan Telecomunication Authority and FAB Frequency Allocation Board will no longer report to Cabinet Division, but will instead come under direct control of Ministry of IT and Telecom. It maybe recalled that PTA was administratively under IT and Telecom division previously as well until it was given to Cabinet Division during Musharraf era.
In addition to PTA and FAB, three more regulatory bodies were also moved from Cabinet Division to respective ministries. National Electric Power Regulatory Authority NEPRA will work under Water and Power Division. Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority OGRA will now be under Petroleum and Natural Resources Division. Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will fall under Finance Division authorities.
The Cabinet Division notification added that necessary amendments in the Rules of Business, 1973 will be made accordingly. The Cabinet Division has sent the said notification, effective from December 19, 2016, to the secretaries of Water & Power Division, Information Technology & Telecom Division, Petroleum & Natural Resources Division, and Finance Division.
However, several telecom industry stakeholders showed reservation on the decision. Former USF CEO and Telecom Expert, Parvez Iftikhar exhibited surprise and expressed unhappiness over the decision.
It is now bieng heared that regulating a sector with the ownership stakes in the shape of a couple of operators raises serious questions for the new regulator cum policy maker. However an independent regulator is always stronger and fierce regarding policy enforcement. The new regime might not be very investment friendly