A new telecommunications policy was proposed recently. The policy asked for the establishment of a parallel competition framework, restructuring of taxes and classification of telecom as an actual industry.
Finance Minister and Chairman of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), Ishaq Dar, has opposed the policy. In a meeting held on 12th of August, he stressed upon the establishment of a policy which reflects commitments instead of mere proposals. He said that the proposed policy did not reflect the tax structural rationalisation framework and rejected the proposal for the establishment of a parallel competition framework to prevent telecom companies from monopolistic practices.
On the matter of classification of telecommunication as a separate industry, he was of the view that such a step would not be appropriate. In his view, fiscal and constitutional aspects of the matter need to be considered.
Dar said that the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) is a statutory body that is working on and has the duty to regulate an equal footing for industrial competition. Therefore the establishment of another regulatory body, parallel competition framework, advised by the new policy is unjustified. Secretary of the Ministry of IT further explained that a clause related to competition framework was part of the legal obligations of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act 1996, amended in 2006.
Finance Division secretary said that licensing targets and financial goals were not properly explained in the draft policy and that a distinction between IT and telecommunications was not possible thus, a single ICT policy is applicable on both. He mentioned that the Finance Division would give new suggestions related to some of the clauses of the policy.
During the meeting. the ECC was updated on the consultation process with stakeholders conducted by the Ministry of IT for the formulation of the draft telecom policy. A proposal was made for new competition rules to be introduced to create a healthy, competitive and open telecom market while also identifying key market players and introducing market for wholesale and retail services.
The introduction of spectrum management was also proposed in the meeting, Spectrum management would include spectrum strategy, spectrum trading and the assignment of spectrums to telecom companies.
Another aspect discussed in the meeting was the provision of general authorisation for over-the-top services and satellite telecom services to reach a balanced approach towards instead of the current open sky policy. The aspect of communication security was also discussed and how the data service providers, telecom and media need to be regulated in the coming years.
Source: Express Tribune