Deadlock in Govt-Etisalat Talks

The Etisalat of UAE did not commit to pay $800 million it has been holding back on account of sale of Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) despite earning billions of rupees in profits every year, but promised to take up the matter before its board of directors.

At the heart of dispute are about 131 properties Pakistan government was required to transfer in the name of PTCL under the privatisation agreement but failed to do so due to legal complications.

Etisalat stopped disbursement of $800 million of PTCL sale proceeds in 2006 after clearing about $1.8bn.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar expressed Pakistan’s displeasure over Etisalat’s move of holding back Pakistan’s money for seven years by linking it with the transfer of properties in the name of PTCL.

Etisalat could delay payment of a maximum of 26pc amount proportionate to its shareholding because if at all any loss was involved due to non-transfer of properties in the name of PTCL, the government of Pakistan being the majority shareholder should be more concerned as bigger loser.

– Finance Minister Ishaq Dar

Mr Juffar told the finance minister that Etisalat wanted to resolve the issue and wanted to hold threadbare discussions on each property and hence would require at least a week to consult its legal team and then convene a meeting of its board of directors to take a final decision.

The meeting was informed that more than 60 properties, out of 131, have either been transferred or were in the final stages of transfer to PTCL.

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