Gilgit - Baltistan

IT Ministry unaware of how SCO functions, says Anusha Rehman

ISLAMABAD: The Special Communications Organisation, one of 10 departments affiliated with the information technology ministry, has been taking the lion’s share of the ministry’s budget every year, a Senate panel was informed on Tuesday.

The IT ministry itself has no representation in the SCO board and is unaware of how the department functions, according to Anusha Rehman, a junior minister who is in charge of information technology.

Rehman briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology on Tuesday.

The SCO is a public sector organisation which gets 75 per cent of the ministry budget, around Rs3 billion, in order to operate and maintain telecom services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

The SCO is headed by a [military] general and the General Headquarters (GHQ) handles its affairs.

According to details, Rs2.77 billion were earmarked in the budget for 2013-14 including Rs376.548 million for developments and Rs2.399 billion for operations.

The revelation by the minister prompted members of the committee, which held its first ever meeting, to demand a special session on the SCO with questions over why the SCO was operating under the IT ministry and being funded since 2006.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2014.

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