ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq has said that the auction of additional spectrum for the country is scheduled for Sept 16, however no new entrant has applied to participate in the auction.
He said that the IT ministry would launch a new social media platform for federal government employees by the end of September, as a replacement of Whatsapp.
The minister was talking to the media at the sidelines of National Freelancing Conference 2021 held to obtain feedback over the draft National Freelancing Facilitation Policy from the stakeholders.
The minister said that the auction for additional spectrum in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region would be held in the last week of September, adding that it was observed that the mobile companies were reluctant to enter the AJK and GB markets due to limited return on investments there.
New social media platform being launched for govt employees
About his recent meeting with the four mobile companies, he said: “The companies were clearly told that more than 70 per cent of their demands have been met by the ministry. They were assured that all their concerns would be addressed gradually but in return they would have to participate in the free and fair bidding process.”
He said the mobile companies had been told to improve their service quality across the country, otherwise the ministry would start issuing notices to them and imposing fines on them.
The minister said that federal government employees had been barred by the establishment division from using social media platforms, but a new locally developed platform would be launched only for government employees by the end of this month.
“This platform having a country-based server is called ‘Beep’. It will offer text messages in the first phase, to be followed by voice and video transfers,” Mr Haq said, adding that Beep would be offered to the employees of provincial governments after a few months.
The minister acknowledged that he was not aware of any details of the recent cyberattack on the FBR’s data, as the bureau was maintaining its own data centre and was not connected with the cyber security services of National Telecommunication Corporation.
The conference was organised by the Pakistan Software Export Board and attended by the country’s leading freelancers and IT professionals.
Addressing the conference, the minister said that the target of $3 billion had been set for the freelancers to bring in remittances from their export of IT services in the next three years.
“And we assure you to address all your issues and remove all official hurdles you are facing,” Mr Haq added.
The freelancers from remote and isolated parts of the country ranging from interior Sindh and Balochistan to GB participated in the conference. According to them, three main issues faced by them are internet connectivity, receiving remittances and taxation problems.
“You are the future. IT freelancers can achieve what the governments cannot. You can work remotely from your homes and earn between $500 and $5,000 per month, and bring significant remittances that is beneficial for the economy. I also urge women to come forward in this field,” the minister said.
Barkan Saeed, chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association, said that the country was facing serious shortage of skilled human resources and IT education institutes were providing relevant qualifications.
The conference was attended by IT Secretary Dr Sohail Rajput, Pakistan Software Export Board Managing Director Osman Nasir, Chief Executive of Ignite Shehryar Afridi and officials of the State Bank of Pakistan, FBR, finance ministry and commercial banks.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2021