ISLAMABAD, May 31: The top officials of Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) have been caught on the wrong foot as their claims of having signed a $130 million MoU were proved to be false giving rise to mistrust about the “achievements” projected by the ministry of science and technology, investigations revealed.

On assuming charge as the federal minister for science and technology, Dr Atta-ur-Rehman set out to bring a revolution in the Information Technology sector but many of his initiatives are falling prey to false projections by different departments painting wrong pictures, sources claimed.

In the case of PSEB, the sources said, a three-year ambitious target of exporting IT products worth one billion dollars was stipulated. The managing director of PSEB, Sohail Shahid, is optimistic that the target would be achieved by December next.

Many industry leaders are, however, doubtful of the optimism expressed by the PSEB MD in view of rejection of one of PSEB’s claims of signing of an MoU by an Islamabad-based company.

This has brought the credibility of the Board’s achievements and its ability to achieve the targets into dispute, those in the industry claimed.

According to the PSEB sources, Askari Information Systems rejected the claims of MoU initiation or signing worth $130 million at the UK Out-Sourcing World exhibition, which was claimed to have been done by the PSEB.

The sources said Askari Information Systems, along with other companies, was invited by the PSEB to participate in the Out- Sourcing World Exhibition held in UK during the third week of April.

On return from the exhibition, the record shows, the PSEB MD, in a press conference, claimed the signing of an MoU worth $130 million between Askari Information Systems and a telecom company. The same claim was repeated in a few other press conferences, the record shows.

When contacted, Askari Information Systems denied the signing of an MoU with any company.

AIS chief executive officer, Zain Islam, said, “AIS was in active communication with a large US-based company for the past one year. The company was wooed by us during the past 12 months to make a major investment of $120 million in the telecom infrastructure in Pakistan but the MoU was not signed.”

Rejecting the claims of the PSEB that the project was initiated at the exhibition, Mr Zain said, “Only the final decision to make that investment synchronised with the London event 2002”.

He said: “An MoU for a multi million dollar business is nothing more than a vehicle for achieving cheap publicity. If only half of the so-called MoUs would have materialised, our national revenue stream from IT would have exceeded the textile sector.”

Interestingly, the PSEB officials claimed the MoU was signed by AIS and termed it an achievement of the Board in the UK exhibition. However, some of the representatives of the software houses, who participated in the exhibition, said the exhibition was nothing more than wastage of funds.

The PSEB top official, the sources said, had announced that the board would arrange the meeting of AIS leadership with President Gen Musharraf for such a big achievement.

Later, the correspondence from AIS resulted in the PSEB having to eat its words and saying the agreement would be signed in June.

The PSEB MD, the sources said, declared after the faux pas, that the final signing ceremony would take place during June in Islamabad.

The AIS, contrary to the PSEB claims, said the project was likely to be finalized in July.

“The sensationalisation of such pipeline projects for point- scoring may cost the private sector their business,” sources in the industry said, condemning the irresponsible behaviour of the PSEB officials.

The PSEB’s decision to participate in the exhibition has also come under fire from the industry players.

“The exhibition, held for the first time, did not have even its website. It not only failed to attract sizable IT leaders but also dealt a heavy blow to public exchequer,” an industry leader who was taken on the PSEB’s bandwagon claimed

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