National Accountability Bureau(NAB) told subcommittee III of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that inquiry over the irregularities and financial benefits from the merger of Warid and Mobilink is in its final stage and soon concerned people will take into custody.
The subcommittee, chaired by Senator Sherry Rehman, was discussing the 2015-16 audit report of the telecommunications sector. One agenda item was titled ‘Loss to Public Exchequer due to Illegal Usage of 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) Services by M/s Warid – Rs51.69 billion (US$516 million)’.
Mobilink and Warid agreed to merge into a single company in 2015. Combined CEO was announced and the company was named Jazz in 2017.
A representative of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) said that Warid did not participate in an auction for a license at the time of the 3G launch but later offered the service because it had spectrum. At that time, Warid had spectrum and Mobilink had 3G, due to which both benefited from the merger as Warid used 3G and Mobilink used spectrum
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman retired Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa spoke in favour of the companies, saying the AGP did not understand the matter correctly. He said Warid benefited because it had fewer users. He added that Warid paid $291 m a decade ago for the spectrum, which it used at the time of the merger.
Director Operations NAB Ghazi Rehman intervened and decided to invite NAB in the next meeting to discuss the issue because it would help committee members understand the matter better.
He informed that “We have been investigating the issue that after the merger both Warid and Mobilink facilitated each other as both lacked some services and facilities that were available with the other company.
He added that the inquiry at in the last stage and some personalities will be arrested in the case of irregularities soon.
The committee decided to invite NAB to the discussion of the issue in the next meeting because it would help committee members understand the matter better.
Senator Sherry Rehman was also displeased by the tabling of issues discussing in the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC). She said that departments should address issues in DACs before PAC meetings.
Committee members Mohammad Sanaullah Khan and Syed Hussain Tariq were also unsatisfied with the Cabinet Division because of the Ministry of Information Technology and the Federal Board of Revenue were not invited by the even though there were issued relevant to them in the agenda.