Senator Robina Khalid chaired the committee. Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication expressed displeasure over the cut in the ministry’s development budget and stressed to restore the funds to its original allocation.
The original allocation was Rs3.04 billion and after cutting down the revised allocation, it stands at Rs1.44 billion.
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.
Senator A. Rehman Malik was of the view that around the world, especially in India, great emphasis was being given to the IT projects and software development. “IT is the only sector that can take Pakistan forward,” he asserted.
He said that legislation must be formulated to ensure the provision of all facilities to all unserved areas.Senator A. Rehman Malik was of the view that providing service only to areas that were commercially viable was a human rights violation, adding that even the “USF was formed to help service providers expand services to less developed areas”. Discussing the details of the Universal Service Fund (USF), Senator A. Rehman Malik said that the USF mandate must be revised so that issues of less developed areas may be resolved.
Senator Fida Muhammad Said Ufone provided least service in the area and hence this issue must 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.
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 Robina Khalid directed the IT ministry to provide furnish a list of Underserved areas.