ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication on Thursday expressed displeasure over the cut in the ministry’s development budget and stressed to restore the funds to its original allocation.
Senator Robina Khalid chaired the committee, which met here at the Parliament House.
The Senate body meeting was attended by Senator Abdul Rehman Malik, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Tahir Bizenjo, Senator Engineer Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh and senior officers of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication and Pakistan Telecom Limited.
While discussing the budget allocation and utilization of the funds by the ministry the committee was informed that the development budget was slashed by 50 percent.
Senator Abdul Rehman Malik was of the view that around the world great emphasis was given to IT projects and software development.
This is the only thing that will take Pakistan forward, he asserted.
Senator Sana Jamali said that if Pakistan wishes to compete with the developed countries it was imperative to develop this sector.
Discussing the details of the Universal Service Fund (USF), Senator Rehman Malik said that the mandate must be revised so that issues of least developed areas could be resolved.
Regarding lack of services of Pakistan Telecom Limited (Ufone) in various areas of Malakand district, Senator Fida Muhammad informed the Committee that there were three service providers in the area; Ufone, Telenor and Zong with 17 percent, 70 percent and 90 percent coverage respectively.
He said the Ufone provided least service in the area and hence this issue must be resolved.
The officials of Ministry of Information Technology informed the Committee that as per license obligations the service providers must have to fulfill the license condition.
It was also revealed that service providers tend to provide services in commercially viable areas.
Senator Rehman Malik was of the view that providing service only to areas that are commercially viable is a human rights violation.
He said that even USF was formed to help service providers expand services to less developed areas. He said that legislation must be made to ensure provision of facility to all unserved areas.
Chairman Committee, Senator Rubin Khalid directed the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to provide the Committee with a list of unserved areas.
The Committee was assured that the Ministry will look into the matter and review ways in which services could be expanded to various areas of Malakand district.