40pc import duty on telecom equipment goes

February 2nd, 2006

Daily Times reports that the Central Board of Revenue has widthdrawn the 40 percent import duty imposed on telecom equipment.

In its latest Customs General Order 22/2006, the CBR had announced the removal of two telecom equipment from the list of other products that could be imported without paying a penny as duty, industry sources said.

Before this order only imports from China were considered duty free by CBR. Here are some interesting sections from the article that point to why only Chinese imports might have been allowed duty-free imports previously:

“It appeared that the government privileged the Chinese products on grounds that some of the Chinese companies are manufacturing telecom components locally and duty-free import would not hurt the local industry’s business scope.”

“Before the fresh order, only China’s ZTE remained the main beneficiary of the duty concession, which has been operating as vendor for the PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Company) for the past two years and fulfilling its almost all telecom equipment supply orders.”

“The PTCL has hired a Chinese firm to computerise its billing and customer care operations at a cost of Rs 1.8 billion almost a year ago,” said the source. “Under that contract, ZTE will be responsible to automate the whole system within 18 months and complete the task in accordance with international telecom standards.”

Production of tissue culture vaccine soon

November 30th, 2005

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to produce tissue culture vaccine (TCV) against rabies and give up the current simple sheep brain vaccine.

The decision was taken at a meeting of provincial health secretaries and director-generals, with Federal Health Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood in the chair, on Tuesday. The meeting was informed that the TCV was more potent, efficacious and stable. Rabies, an almost invariably fatal viral disease, is transmitted to human beings through animal bites, dog being the most common animal. A research project is already in place and the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), in its last meeting, had asked the Ministry of Health to seek consensus from the provinces in this regard, the meeting was told. The provincial secretaries and DGs, representing the provincial health departments, supported the production of the high quality rabies vaccine. After the approval of the project, it would require 12 to 18 months to put the necessary infrastructure in place and start supply to the provinces.

The meeting discussed in detail the introduction of the tetravalent vaccine, which is used to provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis. After intensive discussions, it was decided that the programme would continue to use monovalent vaccine, as the tetravalent vaccine was expensive. staff report

Edited to add by Mod: No source given by Anon poster for this article.

PTCL to close telegraph system

November 30th, 2005

MULTAN: The Pakistan Telecommunication Company’s General Managers Conference held in Lahore on November 21 and 22 recommended to close centuries old telegraph system, which is running in loss. Similarly, telex and trunk calls, which are also running in loss, will be closed, sources said.

Being a member of the International Telegraph Union (ITU), Pakistan cannot close telegram service without the ITU’s permission. PTCL will have to inform the armed forces, courts, banks, national and international institutions before closing telegram service because these agencies still use the system for calling soldiers or approval/ rejection of clemency appeals, court orders etc.

The conference recommended closing telegram services, instead of improving and modernising the system to meet the requirements of the 21st century. Telegrams to rural areas or small towns are being delivered by post that takes three to four days and several Teleprinter circuits had been closed permanently in Sialkot, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Faisalabad, Rahimyar Khan, Sahiwal, Okara, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Larkana, Bunnu, Kohat, Sargodha, Mianwali, Attock, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, Nawab Shah, Bhakkar, Dera Ismail Khan, Loara Lai, Kalat and others. staff report

Edited to add by Mod: No source given by anon poster for this article

KESC control given to Hassan Associates

November 30th, 2005

ISLAMABAD - The government Tuesday handed over the management control of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) to the Consortium of Hassan Associates after receiving the remaining payment of bid.

The share transfer documents for the privatization of KESC were signed and handed over by M. Tahsin Khan Iqbal, Secretary Privatization Commission to the authorized representatives of the consortium included Shan A. Ashary of Al-Jomaih Holding Company, Farooq Hasan of Hasan Associates, Haleem Siddique of Premier Mercantile Services here. Federal Minister for Privatization and Investment Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Ashfaq Ahmed Secretary Ministry of Water and Power were also present on the occasion.

Talking to reporters on the occasion Shan A. Ashary of Al-Jomaih assured KESC employees that no employee of the corporation would be retrenched. He said the company needs the services of employees to make it customer- friendly.

Frank Scherschmidt, the new Chief Executive Officer of KESC said that the company was already under staffed. Our goal was to make Karachi again a city of lights and for this we would train and motivate the staff to make company much more customer-oriented by improving the power generation and reducing the losses.

The privatization of KESC will bring better services through professional management, new investment, and technology and employment benefits. The measures taken for the interests of the workers include offering of 20 per cent increase in salaries to the contract employees and 10 per cent shareholding of KESC to the employees, the new management announced.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Federal Minister for Privatization and Investment, while talking to the mediamen said that the transfer of management control of Karachi Electric Supply Company to the consortium of Hassan Associates (Pvt) Limited would provide best service to the industry and reduce the cost of doing businesses.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that after receiving the remaining amount for KESC, the PC has so far received 258 million dollars (in terms of Pak Rupees translates as Rs 15. 9 billion of the total bid offer of Rs 20.2 billion), which would also increase the FDI. The buyer will invest 500 million dollars in KESC over a period of three years while during the first phase the buyer will invest 75 million dollars.

The minister further said that the completion of KESC transaction would send strong signal to the investors and would speed up and also give impetus to the overall Privatization programme of Pakistan. Being a landmark transaction in the power sector, it would not only set the scene for a rapid turn around of KESC but also for the privatization of other electric utilities and for significant investment in the infrastructure of Karachi. It would convey to the world the government’s commitment towards the privatization process.

He added that all pervious governments had tried their best to improve the efficiency of the company in the larger interest of the consumers and this government was also motivated to bring the transaction to a concluding point with the support of President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, members of CCOP & Privatization Commission Board, PC Staff & Secretariat and Ministries of Water & Power, Finance.

Dr Shaikh said the experienced team and the newly constituted board of KESC, which included reputable persons from the private sector would protect the consumers’ rights.

After KESC, the process of completing PTCL transaction, pre-bid conference for the privatization of PSO and to further process the privatization of PPL, NIT and PSMC on fast track basis would be conducted. Privatization of Pakistan Steel would be completed by mid-January 2005, he told.

Edited to add by Mod: No source given by anon poster for this article

Illegal international call termination points

November 28th, 2005

Ever noticed a local mobile number show up on your caller id when recieving calls from abroad? If that happens the call is probably being routed through an illegal call termination point within Pakistan. The PTA and FIA raided a house in Lahore’s DHA district that had equipment used to terminate international calls. They arrested one person and registering a case against two others.

The raiding team found an operational illegal gateway exchange bypassing legal gateways, at the said premises. It included VoIP gateways, GSM gateways, WLL phones, SIMs of mobile operators and other related equipment. The setup was capable of terminating illegal traffic from abroad by bypassing PTCL gateways and distributing it using WLL and mobile numbers.

Undersea cable lands at Karachi

November 23rd, 2005

After becoming the laughing stock of the world (along with economic losses going into Millions of dollars) when losing internet connectivity to the entire country and not having a backup line, we finally recieve a new undersea optic fibre cable. Hopefully this solves the peoples problems of bandwidth along with affordability.

The Jang reports,

Transworld Associates (TWA), Pakistan’s first private undersea optic fibre cable operator, announced today that its undersea optic fibre cable system, TWA-1, has landed at its cable landing station in Karachi.

With direct cable landings in Karachi , Fujairah (UAE) and Al Seeb (Oman), the TWA-1 undersea optic fibre network would offer end-to-end, direct broadband, high-speed connectivity to Pakistan’s growing number of telecom operators, internet service providers, and corporate customers, a press release said.

Speaking on the occasion, Kamran Malik, Chief Operating Officer TWA, said, “This is a proud moment for Pakistan considering that we are the first Pakistani-owned submarine cable system.”

Read the rest of the article at Jang.

Cellphone subscriber base crosses 18 million mark

November 16th, 2005

Around May the alleged figure was 10.5 million cellphone subscribers which was possibly misleading. 6 Months later, the number of subscribers is now claimed to stand at 18 million. That is phenomenal growth (or imaginative accounting). If the trend continues, land lines will soon be outmoded–a welcome change. It can’t be good news for PTCL.

The Man Who Will Save the Internet

November 14th, 2005

From the register comes the story of the Pakistani who will save the internet and the politics behind it. For those living under a rock, it’s related to the World Summit on the Information Society being held in Tunisia and primarily the controversies behind Internet Governance.

It’s been four years since the issue of how the internet should be run, and by whom, became an official United Nations topic.

And yet despite hundreds of hours of talks, three preparatory meetings and a world summit, there is only one thing that the world’s governments can agree on: Masood Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador.

If a certain US senator and a certain EU commissioner are to be believed, the internet is five days away from total collapse as governments are finally forced into a corner and told to agree on a framework for future Internet governance.

Both are wrong, but there is a very real risk that an enormous political argument resulting in lifelong ill-will centred around the internet could developed unchecked at the WSIS Summit.

The fact that it hasn’t already is effectively down to one man: Mr Khan. He was chosen as chair of Sub-Committee A during the WSIS process, and his remit includes all the most difficult and contentious elements - not just internet governance but also how the world will deal with issues such as spam and cybercrime.

Even though press attention has focussed on the undecided question of control of the internet, at the start of the process there were widely varying views on just about every aspect of the internet.

And yet through a mixture of careful, respectful and open dialogue, occasional prodding and a dry sense of humour, Masood Khan has turned what could easily have become a bar-room brawl into a gradual formation of agreement.

Read the rest of the article here.

WLL operators move to shutdown operations

November 9th, 2005

The Daily Times reports that Etisalat aren’t the only ones disgruntled with Pakistan’s telecom sector. DVCOM along with other wireless local loop operators have moved a petition before the Lahore High Court demanding PTA return their license fees due to breach of contract.

“As per the defined regulation in the policy, at least 25-kilometre area should be provided to the WLL operators, but due to pressure from cellular operators, the PTA is not allowing this range,” said the source. He said DVCOM and other companies had challenged this strategy of the PTA and pleaded if the authority did not review its policy, the amount deposited by operators as license fee should be paid back.

Earlier this year the International 450 Association warned PTA about the repercussions of changing the terms of contract.

“The IA 450 believes that the current determination by the PTA severely limits the introduction of advanced wireless technology and is not in the long-term interest of country, by impacting the economic growth in rural areas where the objective of increasing teledensity will be restricted,” said the letter.

It said no inter-cell handovers and roaming on other networks would be allowed. The handover, which is restricted under the policy, is an event in radio network in which the control of a call in progress is transferred from one cell to another cell of one frequency to another frequency.

But the operators and international organizations fear the PTA policy may force small operators to wrap up their operations and this will hit the image of the country’s growing telecom sector.

WLL operators restricted to offering only fixed wireless access with no mobility are at a significant competitive disadvantage due to limited availability of affordable terminals and inability to offer attractive communications solutions competitive with those offerings from current fixed and mobile operators,” said the IA 450.

Survey: Internet Usage Trends in Pakistan

November 1st, 2005

I am working on a small project to statistically establish likes, dislikes & preferences of fellow resident Pakistanis regarding their choice of online search engine, free web-based email service & instant messaging (IM) software.

I had to conduct this online survey myself as there are no detailed official statistics available regarding ‘internet usage & its trends in Pakistan’. I have already contacted MoITT, PTA, ISPAK, PSEB & PASHA but there has been no significant feedback.

You can participate in this online survey @ http://www.badar.com.pk/survey/survey.php?sid=28

Your participation & support would certainly help get a better insight. Thanks in advance for your precious input.