Non-Opening Of Letters Of Credit Affecting Projects Of USF
The USF officials present at the meeting informed the participants that the suspension of the letters of credit had caused delays in the import of telecom infrastructure machinery.
The information technology ministry informed the Senate panel that the inability to open letters of credit was affecting Universal Service Fund projects (USF). The huddle participants were also informed that letters of credit would become an issue for Jhang, Lodhran, and Mianwali.
The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications was informed that 1.5 million new internet connections are being provided each month, but that non-opening of letters of credit (LCs) is causing problems, on Monday.
The USF officials present at the meeting informed the participants that the suspension of the letters of credit had caused delays in the import of telecom infrastructure machinery. The USF managing director told the Senate panel that various projects were stalled due to a lack of required machinery imports.
The Senate panel took note of the non-opening of letters of credit and decided to write a letter to the finance ministry about it. The panel also delegated authority over the matter to a subcommittee. The committee’s chairperson stated that the issue of letters of credit should be addressed for public-interest projects.
The panel was also informed by USF officials that their connectivity projects in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, and Dera Ghazi Khan had been completed. They also stated that there were issues in Jhelum due to the terrain’s forestation.
Officials from the IT ministry told the meeting that the payment issue with Google had been resolved. They also stated that they had discussed the matter with the finance ministry. The meeting attendees were informed that the foreign companies had received their payments per the Prime Minister’s instructions.
Officials also stated that two infrastructure companies had been licensed and that manufacturing would begin soon in the country.
The panel was briefed on an international internet project by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). At the meeting, PTA representatives described the project as cutting-edge technology and the quickest way to connect to the internet.
He went on to say that using this technology, remote areas of the country could be connected to the Internet. However, the PML-N senator insisted that the project would not be feasible in remote areas.
Later, a subcommittee comprised of PTI senators Afnanullah and Zeeshan Khanzada was formed to investigate the matter. The committee also expressed concern about internet connectivity issues in Gwadar, Balochistan. The senator said that because investors were coming to Gwadar, it should have the best internet facilities available.
Members of the panel complained that due to the city’s poor internet connectivity, children in Gwadar were unable to study during the COVID-19 outbreak. According to PTA officials, the prime minister issued special orders for the improvement of Gwadar, and internet access was restricted in certain areas of the city for security reasons.
They went on to say that internet access is being prioritized in Gwadar, with Rs 4 billion in projects already underway. According to PTA representatives, the city has completed fiber line projects totaling 5,800 kilometers.