Published on June 9th, 2010 | by Babar Bhatti3
Universal Service Fund: Pakistan Telecom Success Story
We have covered Universal Service Fund (USF) of Pakistan in a number of posts, including interview of its CEO, Mr. Parvez Iftikhar. Looking at the development in the telecommunication sector in the last decade, USF stands out as one of the exemplary institutions. In fact, many of the region’s countries have used USF as a case study to learn best practices on how to bridge digital divide in a cost-effective and timely manner. Recently news of politics likely to permeate the USF organization have appeared.
In a recent conference of Mobile 2.0 experts, I had the opportunity to hear a panel discussion on the reasons why USF Pakistan is a success story. This panel had international experts who provided their perspective along with facts and figures presented by USF CEO, Mr. Parvez Iftikhar. The key points mentioned were:
- Low rate of taxes (1.5% versus 5-6% in other countries in the region).
- Setup as an independent entity – means faster decision making and transparency in performance.
- Management structure is a combination of private and government sector – thereby making sure that the policy and implementation is balanced for all stakeholders.
- Leadership – having visionary, result-driven leadership has been vital to the success of USF. Mr. Parvez Iftikhar is at the core of making USF a successful institution.
Here’s what Abu Saeed Khan, a respected telecom analyst had to say about this:
Universal Service Fund is Pakistan’s one among the very few public institutions that have earned domestic and international respect. It is being credited for transparently and effectively disbursing the fund to connect the unconnected. Anti-USF advocates, including Rohan, often refers to Pakistan as an exception.
We hope that this success story of Pakistan telecom industry remains such and does not become yet another politically driven organization with uncertain future performance.