ECC takes up $800m dispute with UAE telecom giant Etisalat
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has decided to take up the $800m longstanding payment dispute with UAE Telecom Giant Etisalat.
Etisalat, a UAE-based company, bought 26 percent stakes worth $2.6 billion in the Pakistan Telecommunications Limited (PTCL), securing the majority voting rights and management control. However, the company only made an initial payment of $1.8 billion, after which it stopped transferring more money due to a property dispute.
The company was expecting transfer of ownership of some government properties to the PTCL. When this did not happen in certain cases due to ownership complications, the remaining payment of $800 million, which was supposed to be made in six twice-yearly installments, was halted.
Last year, the Pakistan’s privatization commission secretary unearthed evidence that the PTCL asset management wing had been providing inaccurate property records. PTCL owned 3,248 properties but only 3,384 were mentioned in the final privatization agreement.
He also informed the Senate Standing Committee that a list of all 3,248 properties was provided to Etisalat with sufficient explanation for why the remaining one could not be transferred to the PTCL.
Pakistan has also considered the option of going to the international court of arbitration for this dispute in 2018.
In January 2020, Etisalat offered to pay only $300 million and deduct the remaining on account of non-transferable properties.
Federal Minister for Information Technology, Syed Amin Ul Haque, says that a meeting, which also included Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Fawad Chaudhry, was held to discuss this issue.
Amin explains that this issue with Etisalat is now taken seriously and the matter will now be taken up by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and the cabinet.