Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

40pc import duty on telecom equipment goes

Thursday, 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.”

Undersea cable lands at Karachi

Wednesday, 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.

PTCL-Etisalat deal collapses

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

UAE’s Etisalat has failed to make the final payment for the takeover bid of PTCL. The deadline had been extended 2 months from August to October. Etisalat’s bid was $1.96 per share while it’s nearest competitor China Mobile bid $1.066 per share–almost half. Surely Etisalat management must have felt like a bunch of idiots and their knee-jerk response was to demand various concessions (deferred payments, tax exemptions, permission to trade stock in the UAE market) to make up for their grave miscalculation. What action should be taken next?

Rs320 million system for measuring Indus Waterflow fails to function

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

Dawn reports that the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) is demanding “design re-engineering” for the system installed to monitor inflows and outflows at dams, costing Rs320 million and 2 years to develop under contract from Siemens of Germany which was rehired for a further 6 months for Rs8.4 million to fix the problem in vain.

Irsa wants nothing to do with the system and wants WAPDA to get the issue resolved under warranty (if the working system is not even delivered yet it should not even be an issue of warranty). The ministry says that WADPA, Nespak (National Engineering Services Pakistan), Siemens and Supernet should see the issue to completion while Irsa and provincial deparments monitor the progress. Appears that eveyrone wants to delegate or transfer responsibility.

Utility Payment Kiosks

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

NADRA has started allowing consumers to pay their bills electronically with the aid of computerized kiosk’s. the Jang reports.

The KIOSK machines installation process would be completed by the end of August 2005. Nadra, in initial phase, is considering installing around 25-40 KIOSK machines in Karachi only.

That’s where the problem lies. They have moved the entire nation to these computerized NIC’s and have them registered to their systems, and they expect to handle a city of 15 million people with just 40 kiosk’s? And let me guess, they’re built on a pirated windows platform as well. The article proudle boasts that the machines can handle over 300 users in a 24 hour period.

No user will ever be paying their bills at 2 in the morning. I can still see the four hour queues of users trying to pay their utility bills on time. Why don’t we have an online payment system yet since everything is all computerized now?

The kicker: Will there be separate ladies kiosk’s?

Computerized salary payment introduced

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

The office of accountant-general Azad Kashmir, will be making salary payments to government employees through a computerized (direct debit) payment system, reports dawn. These employees will further recieve a pay increase starting July. Pensioners will also recieve enhanced pensions, through this system.

Electronic money transfer may not be very welcome in a financial climate like Paksitan where tax evasion, word-of-mouth credit and cash are king; where people and businesses would prefer to keep everything off the books and out of the government/public eye. Salaried employees, however, would have much to gain and nothing to lose from this.

Tsunami Early Warning System in Pakistan

Sunday, July 24th, 2005

With the recent 7.2 earthquake off the southern coast of India, Pakistan Met. Department is investing Rs.193 million in upgrading its seismological network toward a Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS). Current proposal is to install 15 broadband seismic centres, 50 short-band and 50 strong motion seismo-graphics across the vital regions. The data from these systems could be analyzed and processed within a couple of minutes.

In 1945, Balochistan coast was hit with an 8.3 Richter earthquake followed by 40 feet Tsunami waves resulting in 4000 casualties.

While these system will provide an early warning, there should be a public plan in place for an emergency response system detailing evacuation and relief. Say a warning is issued by TEWS and a tsunami is imminent, I don’t see how the people living in say the clifton/defence area would be able to evacuate within a matter of hours, let alone minutes (due to traffic congestion, bad roads, 3 major exit points to the inland, two of them being bridges etc). TEWS is only half the battle and hopefully the government is sensible enough to think two steps ahead.

Following up on PAEC

Friday, July 15th, 2005

Dawn reports, The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has been assigned a special task by the government to set up 13 new nuclear power plants to generate 8800 MW of power in the next 25 years with a view to meet growing requirements of the industrial sector.

Informed sources told Dawn here on Thursday that when work on the 300-MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-2 had started in May last, the PAEC authorities were directed to accelerate their efforts to install 13 more nuclear power plants both with local and foreign financial and technical support. Each plant would roughly have a capacity of 600-700 MW.

Chashma-2 will be completed in 2011 at a revised cost of $850 million for which Chinese were mainly providing financial and technical support. Chashma-1 was also built with Chinese assistance and was currently producing about 1400 MW of electricity at 95 per cent plus capacity, which sources claimed, was one of the highest in the world.

Sources said that PAEC was expecting to establish 13 new nuclear power plants mostly through indigenous efforts, especially due to the transfer of technology being received from Chinese for Chashma-2. The PAEC is expected to be self-sufficient in all aspects of designing, installation, construction and operations of the proposed nuclear power plants.

Can someone please tell me, where the heck is PAEC getting all this pull for financial credit from all these foreign countries who are helping set up our so called future civil infrastructure. What’s the catch here? What are we giving back to China that they are helping us out like this?

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to invest Rs2.5 billion in lab upgrades

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has the go ahead from the government to updrade the laboratories of Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (Pinstech) in a 5 year plan, costing Rs. 2.5 billion. Dawn reports:

Under the programme, laboratories and facilities of Pinstech will be established and upgraded for economical study of irradiated assemblies of the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactors I and II, the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant and the Karachi Nuclear Power Project to determine their performances at different burn-ups.

Compensation demanded for internet losses

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Dawn reports that the ISPs, Long Distance and International (LDIs) call centres are seeking compensation of $43 million for the 10 day internet outage, while PTCL claims that legally they are not obliged to pay anything at all. The LDIs which bring on average 10 million minutes of international traffic per month claimed losses of $7.35 million, ISPs claimed $7 million and the IT industry $3.6 million (although these figures don’t add up to $43 million).

The enraged also claimed that PTCL, instead of spending $10 million on satellite backup every year could have simply invested $20 million in an alternative fibre-optic cable.

Sucks to be a call centre in Pakistan.