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Supreme Court seeks audit report of USF

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought last three years' audit report of Universal Services Fund (USF) and directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to submit a reply in response to the transfer of Rs 62 billion from USF to the Federal Consolidated Fund (FCF).

A three-member bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja resumed the hearing of a petition filed by Khurram Shehzad Chughtai, an IT expert, who had sought a court order for the government to complete the process of auction for 3G spectrum licences on an urgent basis in a transparent manner and ensure early availability of services.

During the course of proceedings, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja expressed displeasure at the failure of the AG's office to submit a reply in the matter, and asked the AGP to explain the amendment in the law under which Rs 62 billion was transferred from USF to the FCF. The AGP Salman Aslam Butt, apprised the court that he did not have the necessary information and requested time to access the information.

Justice Khawaja remarked that the court had directed the AGP to explain the matter some four months ago and expressed displeasure at him seeking more time. The Ministry of Information and Technology had previously informed the court that Rs 62 billion USF funds had lawfully been transferred to the FCF after making necessary changes in USF Rules 2006. In its statement submitted to the court, the ministry said the amount was placed from the IT Ministry's USF account to the Finance Ministry's FCF in pursuance of a decision by the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet.

The court also directed that transparency should be ensured during the auction for 3G and 4G spectrum licenses. Abdus Sammad, Director General (DG), Enforcement Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), apprised the court that the auction for 3G and 4G spectrum licenses would be conducted on April 7; however, the PTA had issued an advertisement for the auction to all newspapers on February 25. The court adjourned proceedings of the case till March 17.

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