There were the days when having a telephone
connection was a dream of the common man in our country. People have to
wait for years for the demand note. The subscribers in most of the cases
had to bribe or seek Sifarish to hear the first ring of the phone even
after paying the amount of the demand note. Having a phone was a
business of the privileged class only.
However, the situation is altogether different today
by virtue of the policy of privatization, which has brought a cutthroat
competition in the telecommunication sector, and the companies engaged
in the business are offering innovative and attractive offers to attract
the customers. Even the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation was
forced to offer free telephone connections to remain in the business.
This trend of offering free telephone connection was in fact a marketing
technique, which ultimately helps the telephone department to have more
revenue due to a quantum jump in the number of subscribers. Since the
number of telephone users is growing rapidly, there is great possibility
that the call charges on local and long distance calls would also come
down sharply in near future. Obviously a good development both from the
consumer as well as telephone companies point of view.
Actually, the success story of the telecommunication
sector should be a trendsetter for other utility sectors, which are
still in the control of the public sector in Pakistan.
Electricity was yet another area which is related to
every human member of the society, since this highly significant area
was still under the government control, the corrupt were still taking
booty out of the situation by creating a host of problems in the areas
like distribution, meter reading, billing and maintenance etc.
It is the high time that the successful experiment of
privatization in the telecommunication sector should also be applied in
the power sector by handing over the power distribution system to the
private sector companies in the large cities of the country.
Currently, there is a monopoly of one public sector
utility companies in major cities of the country. If more than one
companies are allowed to operate distribution and marketing of the
electricity in the large cities like Karachi where distribution and
marketing of the electricity distributed among four to five companies,
there are strong possibilities that not only the unaffordable price of
the electricity will come down but the quality of the power supply would
also improved to a great extent, as it has already happened in the case
of telecommunication sector.
Enjoying the taste of the privatization, the Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority (PTA), following government's liberal and
business-friendly investment policy is laying optimum emphasis on
implementation to its deregulation policy with pressure free and
autonomous role. It has earned a record 14 billion rupees for the
exchequer through the spectrum auction recently. In return, the PTA has
also offered attractive package of incentives and vast lucrative
opportunities to investors. This accomplishment is indeed a quantum leap
for the PTA. PTA had also received an enormous chunk of about $582
million by way of issuing two cellular phone licenses to companies of
international repute in a transparent bidding process.
The bidding for 14 telecom regions for the grant of
wireless local loop licenses with the conclusion of auction of spectrum
in southern telecom region and Karachi telecom region was completed in
the third week of last month. The bidding for the allocation of spectrum
captured huge investment and about 108 wireless local loops are expected
to be issued for operation. The wireless local loop services are going
to bring another revolution in the telecom sector of the country, which
ensures attracting huge investment in the country.
The wireless local loop services is the latest and
best suited technology to the prevalent environment in Pakistan. This
service is expected to greatly benefit the low-income groups and
inhabitants of the rural and remote areas where people have not access
to the telephone network so far. There is a great hope that in the wake
of huge investment, the investors turn entrepreneur will set up their
own establishments resulting in employment opportunities of the people.
There is going to be more competition, high quality of services
standards, cheaper charges and scanty affordable bills. With the advent
of new operators, call rates for telephone will substantially decrease
leading to enduring and sustainable relief to the consumers, which is
the basic function of PTA as the guardian of consumer's interest. By
implementing the deregulation policy in letter and spirit, PTA is
accomplishing the economic objectives of the country.
I would like to emphasis again that the highly
appreciable example set by the telecommunication sector should be
followed by other utility organizations especially by WAPDA and KESC, as
the high cost of electricity, poor quality of power supply, and high
incidence of power theft all are an unbearable burdens on the national
economy, on the budget of the common man and above all a major irritant
in the way of industrial investment in the country despite enormous
business potential and opportunities.