AGP finds financial irregularities in telecom sector

Updated September 21, 2019

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The audit shows that the PTA could not finalise 16 cases against telecom operators despite show-cause notices issued to them. — AFP/File
The audit shows that the PTA could not finalise 16 cases against telecom operators despite show-cause notices issued to them. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has highlighted financial irregularities and unlawful permissions by the telecommunication sector operators, including non-deposit of Rs6.69 billion in the federal consolidated fund by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The audit report has raised objection to non-implementation of network roll-out obligations by 11 long distance international (LDI) operators for 14 years. “PTA management neither took any action nor terminated the licences as required by the licence condition,” it said.

The audit shows that the PTA could not finalise 16 cases against telecom operators despite show-cause notices issued to them, amounting to Rs27.35bn penalties. The other objection includes unlawful permission granted by the PTA for 3G &4G/LTE service without recovering cost or fee which deprived the national exchequer of its revenue.

Says PTA failed to deposit Rs6.69bn in federal consolidated fund

The PTA did not deposit Rs6.69bn in the federal consolidated fund. The regulator had received Rs9.72bn surplus over its expenditures, but deposited Rs3.02bn in the fund in October 2017. The other audit objection includes realisation of Rs2.69bn less in terms of annual regulatory dues and other failed recoveries amounting to more than Rs3bn.

The audit report suggested that telecom entities strengthen their receivable mechanism and ensure recovery of outstanding dues. It also recommended that the management of Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) investigate the unlawful launch of 4G service without approval by the FAB.

The audit report also recommended strict disciplinary action against those in the telecom sector failing to comply with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules 2004 for procurement of goods and services.

The report submitted to parliament highlighted that the Special Communi­ca­tions Organisation (SCO) had committed irregularities worth Rs354 million for the audit year 2018-19. It suggested that the SCO examine, count, measure or weigh, as the case may be, when delivery is taken.

An audit objection includes irregularities in payments of Rs173.20m. The AGP said the officer receiving materials should also be required to give a certificate that he had actually received these and recorded them in an appropriate stock register.

The SCO management signed an agreement with M/s ZTE of China in June 2016 for a project titled “Replacement of GSM network in AJ&K” amounting to Rs1.62bn. The AG report said the entire amount was paid to ZTE by the SCO management against two invoices, while the bill of ladings against imported goods did not match with the actual receipt of goods and in some cases entries were erased with black ink.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019