PTCL Privatization: will PTI govt ever be able to recover much needed $800m from Etisalat

PTCL Privatization,  which has been termed as large-scale scandal and biggest financial scam in the history of Pakistan by industry experts, and a classic example of favoring nepotism putting national interest aside, selling Pakistan’s largest Telecommunication Company with huge infrastructure (26 per cent stake with full managerial control) to UAE Based telecom giant Etisalat in 2005.

Etisalat had to pay USD 2.599 billion in 30 days – but in April 2006, an agreement was re-settled and payment was scheduled in instalments associating it with the transfer of properties, again to favor the buyer, which dented the credibility and transparency of the deal.

Around $800 million was withheld by Etisalat since the past decade. Etisalat deferred the payment instalment for the first time in March 2008, citing delays in transfer of PTCL properties and violation of the sale agreement by Pakistani authorities as the reason. Since then all possible efforts, through all possible channels at all levels have been made but failed to recover the due payment from Etisalat.

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Previous governments neither had the will nor the interest to resolve this issue as they were preferring their personal interests over the national interests, where Pervaiz Musharraf and his successors Asif Ali Zardari (PPP) and Mian Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) all had received huge favors from UAE government for their kickbacks and favors made during their tenures. 
Many committees were formed, commission were established in past by privatization commission, Ministry of IT and Telecom, Ministry of Finance and even Foreign affairs but unfortunately limited only to mere formal discussion with Etisalat delegation but no results. 

One mustn’t necessarily be a financial expert to understand the worth of materializing this long-standing due payment of $800 million, in country’s recent fragile economic situation, where newly elected PM along with his cabinet, restlessly approaching all friendly countries, seek financial cooperation.

Especially after the recent and most successful PM visit of UAE where both the countries have agreed to transform ties into a long-term strategic economic partnership. This seems to be the perfect time for PM Imran Khan to use his personal influence and cordial relations with UAE rulers to address this long-standing matter.

Instead getting the due payment released from Etisalat, government should ensure that all possible actions must be taken to make the process of privatization be more transparent in future, and must be focused on national interest and fairness as the PTCL privatization keep haunting the stakeholders involved for a long time where there is still a lot of potentials for government to attract  huge foreign investment through privatization of various entities.

PTCL Privatization: will PTI govt ever be able to recover much needed $800m from Etisalat

In other words this must be testing time for PTI’s government, where Nation has high hopes and great expectations, to keep moving with set momentum, in right direction under IKs leadership and bring back this  $800 million and all the money which has been looted from our beloved country and loundered to West with severe punishments to all culprits involved.

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