ISLAMABAD, Jan 19: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said the government was committed to facilitate development of communication infrastructure in the country through a well defined regulatory policy and legislative framework. Addressing on the occasion of a celebration arranged by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for achieving the landmark of Pakistan’s 100 million cellular subscribers, he said, “Our telecom policy is characterized by a mix of public-private partnership and policy of deregulation.” Critical reforms have been introduced in this sector under the umbrella of National ICT Research & Development Fund and Universal Service Fund, he added.
He said, he was sure that with sustained policy focus and dedication of IT professionals, the government would continue to achieve successes in this sector.
The success of cellular mobile industry has become an exemplary model of coordinated efforts between the government, the industry and the policy makers, the prime minister said.
“I understand that more than 61% of population and over 92% of land area is now covered by cellular services. It is an ample justification of the fact that cellular mobile revolution has taken over the whole country connecting millions of people, thousands of job opportunities and adding billions of rupees to the national exchequer.”He appreciated the outstanding efforts of the Ministry of Information Technology, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Cabinet Division and the whole cellular mobile industry for this rare accomplishment.
“All of these stakeholders have put in their concerted efforts and energies to make the achievement of the 100 million subscribers’ milestone possible,” Gilani said adding the demonstration of commitment, professional excellence and dedication on the part of all those associated with the cellular industry has set an appreciable benchmark of success and inspiration.
He said the celebration today is indicative of the importance, which the democratic government attaches to the telecommunication sector.
IT sector, invariably, is an instrument of the national development. Telecommunication and information technologies have become viable tools of communication as well as of disseminating ideas, ideologies and cultures, he said adding the phenomenal advancements in the field of Information Technology have revolutionized every aspect of the national and individual life.
Consequently, geographical, cultural, social and economic barriers are giving way to new alignments and productive partnerships, the Prime Minister said adding, “the global village we live in is being constantly shaped by the emerging innovations in the field of telecommunication sector. The nations can now ill-afford to ignore the realities of today if they have to keep pace with the rest of the world.”
He said information dynamics have also key role to play in strengthening security, competitiveness, accelerating economic growth and ensuring general welfare of the people. Digital divide leads to economic disparities and poses a creative challenge for the world community.
“We live in an age, which is defined by the battle of ideas. There is a constant clash between progressive and regressive forces,” he said adding acquiring the state of the art technologies is, therefore, a must to win the battle of hearts and minds besides creating space for civilizational harmony and broad-based interfaith dialogue.
“Our capacity to deal with natural disasters is also proportional to the use of telecommunication technology,” he said.
The Prime Minister said at the same time, the auxiliary effects of the cellular boom have also served as catalyst for other important sectors of the economy, such as the mobile phone uptake, aggressive media campaigns, extensive social contributions and timely relief efforts.
The competition in the cellular market has reached its apex as operators are introducing new services, bringing tariffs down and improving customer services, he said adding the government’s pro-industry reforms and investor-friendly policies have made Pakistan a lucrative investment attraction for the global community.
The telecom industry is flourishing due to the presence of renowned multinationals in the sector ensuring a respectable share of telecom in the total FDI of the country, the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister said the most impressive aspect of cellular revolution is the macro- and micro- effects on the nation’s economy.
Telecom is one of the most thriving sectors in the economic growth, which brought over US 11 billion dollars of investment during the last five years, he said adding at the international level, Pakistan is a respected and recognized polity in the telecom circles, being awarded with highest honors by renowned telecom institutions like ITU, GSMA, SAMENA.
He said the stakeholders must not forget the aspirations and expectations of the consumers, who have made this achievement possible by putting their money, time and trust in these services and their providers.
Better quality of service, fair tariffs, amiable customer and innovative value added services can turn these 100 million subscribers into 100 million opportunities for stakeholders to venture into new paradigms and explore new possibilities, he added.
He expressed the hope that the upcoming 3G licensing would inculcate a new incentive for operators and consumers alike.
“I expect that the relevant quarters would speed up the necessary procedures in this regard.”
He congratulated all the stakeholders who truly collaborated and coordinated their efforts for the success of telecom industry in Pakistan.
“I am sure that telecom industry of Pakistan will continue to achieve prestige and honour in the future too,” the Prime Minister said.
Minister for Information Technology, Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali said that telecom sector has significant contribution to the GDP and the future of Pakistan lies in this sector.
Telecom sector has become biggest contributor to tax revenue of the country, the minister said, adding that the number of mobile users is more than the registered voters in Pakistan.
Earlier, Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammad Yaseen in his welcome address said that telecom sector in Pakistan is the biggest in SAARC region and attracted &6.3 billion investment out of total investment of &11 billion. He said this sector contributed $332 million revenue to the national exchequer during the last three year.
CEO Mobilink, Rashid Khan said that telecom industry in Pakistan is a lucrative market for foreign investors. He said,in each minute 4,30,000 SMSs and 60,000 voice messages are sent through mobile phones.