The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications was held on Thursday, 13th March 2019. Chaired by Senator Rubina Khalid, the meeting was attended by Senator A. Rehman Malik, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi ,Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi, Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator, r Faisal Javedand senior officers from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication,Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Mr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was also present in the meeting.
The issues taken up by the Committee included the payment of increase in pensions of PTCL employees, implementation status of the previous Committee recommendations and issue of streamlining the collection of taxes on cell phones brought from abroad at airports.
The meeting commenced with members of the Committee showing concern regarding the potential threat of a cyber attack on Pakistan. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter it was recommended that this issue be taken up separately in the next meeting.
Senator A. Rehman Malik opined that in response to India’s tall claims regarding attack at Balakot, satellite images may be released to prove the falsity of Indian claims before the world. . He urged the Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication Mr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui to take appropriate measures in this regard.
Senator Abdul Rehman Malik inquired whether Telecom Service providers seek permission from the PTA while upgrading their technologies as the recent upgradation from 3G to 4G happened recently. The Chairman PTA informed that licensing conditions of the Service providers were ‘Technology Neutral’.
While deliberating over the matter of PTCL pensioners, Chairperson Committee, Senator Rubina Khalid said that it was a shame that this matter was not being resolved and showed displeasure at the absence of the Board of Trustees in the meeting.
Senator Kulsoom Parveen was of the view that privatization agreements did not ensure the employee protection in many cases. She said that in such cases it is imperative that employees’ interest protection clauses be added to all such agreements of the privatization.
On the absence of Trustees of the Pakistan Telecommunication Employees Trust (PTET), Senator A. Rehman Malik was of the view that the Committee cannot be taken lightly and stringent measures must be taken against all those who do not complyto the directions of the Committee. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi was of the view that meeting the trustees was important because they were entrusted with the power to decide on the issue of the pensions of the retired PTCL employees. A sub-Committee was formed to deliberate over this matter in greater detail.
The Committee strongly opposed the imposition of taxes on bringing more than one mobile phone to Pakistan and recommended that this policy be revisited in consultation with the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication. Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh said that this policy had numerous flaws andfor clarity every aspect of it must be evaluated separately.