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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs10 billion technical supplementary grant (TSG) for the digital information infrastructure initiative to mitigate the challenges of cyber-attacks.

The approval was on a summary moved by Ministry of Information Technology of Telecom after the ECC was informed that Pakistan information technology and communication (ICT) infrastructure is the key component of the country’s cyber space and is prone to cyber-attacks and the implementation of the initiative is crucial to mitigate the challenges of cyber-attacks by protecting national critical information infrastructure. The digital information infrastructure initiative aims to provide requisite technical capabilities to proactively identify potential cyber threats on the national critical information infrastructure besides blocking of cyber security incidents/ breaches in real time.

On the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to firm up the implementation modalities, several consultative sessions were held between the stakeholders (Finance Division, Ministry of ITT, Pakistan Telecom Authority and relevant LEA), wherein, it was discussed and agreed that MoITT will act as the coordinating ministry, while the PTA and relevant law enforcement agencies (LEA) will be the implementing agency for the initiative.

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It was also agreed that owing to sensitivity of the initiative, the relevant LEAs will act as the procuring agency for the initiative for which various options for funding were also discussed by the stakeholders.

The Ministry added that a summary for the ECC of the Cabinet was accordingly moved by MoITT in November 2023. The ECC approved the case for bridge financing from the research and development (R&D) fund for Rs5 billion, to be recouped by the Finance Division in the last quarter of current fiscal year. The decision was duly ratified by the Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on 15 November 2023.

The said funds have already been utilised by the relevant LEA/ procuring agency for making advance payment for the initiative.

The procuring agency has now identified that the first instalment of the initiative of Rs10 billion is due by 15th February 2024 and in order to make funds available for the instalment, it is proposed that Ministry of Planning and Development may identify funds from within PSDP 2023-24.

Therefore, the ECC of the Cabinet is requested to approve TSG Rs10 billion from the savings to be identified by Ministry of Planning from PSDP 2023-24 against the current Budget of MoITT as a federal grant. The meeting was told that the amount will be utilised by relevant LEA through Assignment Account titled, “Digital Information Infrastructure Initiative”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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