Posted by: Administrator | 21 February, 2005

President at Launching Ceremony of Warid telecommunication

13 May 2005

His highness my brother Sheikh Nahyyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyyan, Minister of Information and Technology, all the other ministers general officers Excellencies, our valued guests who have come from UAE specially, Ladies and Gentlemen. It indeed a unique privilege for me to be standing here and having this opportunity to address you on this very important occasion of the launching ceremony of Warid telecommunication I am extremely touched what ever I have seen and heard till now.

My brother Sheikh Al-Nahyyan I am extremely touched by the compliments that you give me it puts that much pressure on me to perform for Pakistan, for this country. It puts that much pressure on me to ensure that our relationship between Pakistan and UAE flourishes in the future in accordance with your vision and my vision together so therefore I am very sure Inshallah that together we shall make the two countries much closer and look for great strategic understanding and relationship between our two countries Inshallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen this is indeed a land mark occasion in the telecommunication sector history of Pakistan, Warid is the sixth Mobile operator in Pakistan but may I also add very quickly that they are the second who are paying very handsomely to get into the Pakistani market and we thanked my brother his highness Prince Nahyyan for this. I would like to congratulate his highness Sheikh Nahyyan for the rapid and massive launch that he is spoken of and that we have seen.

I would say with coming into 28 cities he comes with a big bang and I wish him success in all his operations in the future. I would also like to thank you my brother for the confidence and the commitment that you show in Pakistan. You came into the banking sector first with Al-Falah Bank and then the UBL and then now you are coming into the telecommunication sector and I also know your interest in the building and construction in the commercial activities the shopping malls that you are planning to build for Pakistan in Lahore and may be also in Karachi so we welcome you for that also.

Your presence tonight at this launching ceremony is a very clear manifestation of your commitment and your love for Pakistan. The least we can do is to reciprocate and show our love for you and therefore my brother welcome to Pakistan, welcome again and again and again.

The telecommunication sector ladies and gentlemen has shown a phenomenal increase in Pakistan. I was just looking back at the tele-density two years back it stood at 4.5 % and today it is crossing 10 % the main actors in this is the cellular. The cellular phones in 1999, we had only 3 hundred thousand cellular phones here.

In 2002-03 just two years back or two and a half years back we only had 6 hundred thousand mobile telephones and today in 2005 we have 10 and a half million mobile telephones that is the growth of mobile telephones and tele-density in Pakistan. I was just interested in the mathematics of all this if you are talking of 10 million telephones increased in the last two years and if each one of them cost 7 thousand Rs then I am sure they have cost more but if we average it out at the lower end of 7 thousand it means that the people of Pakistan have spend 70 billion Rs buying mobile telephones only.

Who says that poverty is not going down in Pakistan it certainly is going down in Pakistan there is more money available in the hands of the people and these purchases are not by the rich the rich already had the telephone it is by the middle class who have more access more liquidity in funds. This revolution in telephones started I believe in 29 October 2003 with our decision to give two mobile companies the licenses and that is when Telenor and Al-Warid decided to come in and also when we decided to deistically reduced the service rates of PTCL. These were the two events which created this boom in the telecommunication sector in Pakistan. In one and a half years I am very glad that two licenses were given and both licenses have commenced operations.

The benefit to Pakistan of these two in the coming years or two, there will be an investment of one billion US dollars into the economy of Pakistan and therefore our gratitude again to Warid for contributing substantially towards investment in Pakistan so therefore I can conclude that foreign direct investment in Pakistan by the grace of ALLAH is growing by leaps and bounds and it will keep growing in the coming years. All figures that I have just mentioned that the Pakistan as the society is a telephone hungry country.

I have said this before also we have what I would call in Punjabi “Hore Ki Hall hay” syndrome because any one every where in Pakistan would like to ring up his home whether in Pakistan or from abroad and having asked the well being and the health of each of his brothers by 2 name followed by his sisters by name his parents his uncles his aunties by name and when all that gets consumed he will then finally having consumed what ever he has to talk he will still go on saying “Hore Ki Hall Hay” and that is the syndrome we have in Pakistan and therefore I say that we are telephone hungry nation and I know that the PTA and IT ministry is predicting an substantial increase in the number of telephones in Pakistan in the coming few years.

When I was in Finland and we were given a briefing in Nokia, I was told that by 2007 Pakistan will be the second largest Nokia market in the world in another one and a half two years therefore our predictions are that we will have at least 15 million telephone holders in Pakistan in another one or two years Inshallah. May I also add that with the Wireless Local Loop the WLL system being introduce in Pakistan telecommunication will given a much greater boost. WLL will be ideal for the rural areas it will bridge the rural urban divide and also assist in poverty alleviation in the villages in the rural areas of Pakistan because through this telephone access a farmer will be able to access markets which will offer him the best price for his produce so I personally think telecommunication will also assist in the poverty alleviation of Pakistan in the rural areas.

May I also add that the increase in the competition the tariffs of all services have declined very sharply and the consumers are the main beneficiaries of this sharp decline in the tariffs. Calls now at Rs 3 nation wide and Rs 5 international were unimaginable just two years back I know that in two years back a call from Karachi to Rawalpindi or vice versa was Rs 40 per minute from Rs 40 per minute we are talking of Rs 3 nation wide and Rs 5 international so look at the reduction in the tariffs and may I again add that I was told by the chairman PTA that this reduction of this substantial amount saves all the telephone operators in Pakistan the consumers 15 billion Rs per annum this 15 billion Rs additional is available to all telephone users of Pakistan because of the reduced tariffs so therefore this is another contribution towards poverty alleviation towards more money being available in the pockets of 10 and a half million telephone users of Pakistan.

May I also add that with the introduction of broad band policy the internet access in Pakistan will also spread very rapidly. Thinking of the future thrust in telecommunication I would like to recommend very strongly and urged the ministry of IT and the PTA that they must continue their dialogue with all operators with all consumers and with all the stake holders so that they keep their policy and regulatory process in harmony with the needs of telecommunication sector specially the need of the people involved all the stake holders. We also need to provide the competitive environment so that the various players in the telecommunication sector include areas not served and poorly served by telecommunication in their future roll out plans.

Let me announce here the future strategy to harness and to encourage the telecommunication industry specially encouraged the poorer lot using telephones. I have asked the govt to reduce the cost of the activation charges which were previously reduced from 2000 Rs to 1000 Rs let us reduce them further to 1000 Rs to 500 Rs let be the first step announced here. I am sure that the tariff collection when we reduced initially there where apprehensions that when we reduced these tariff there be a reduction in our collection of taxes but I have seen when ever we reduce tariffs there is a big boost to tax collection that is because the spread which gets wider and I am sure that with this reduction from 1000 Rs to 500 Rs we will not reduce our taxes but increase them certainly.

We ladies and gentlemen are privatizing the PTCL let me assure any one here, every one concerned we will not pass the monopoly to the private sector and we are taking steps to ensure that. First of all the PTA will ensure and will exercise the proper control to ensure the level plain field for all the stake holders, all those entrants in the telecom sector in Pakistan. we also intend increasing the fiber optics back bone, I know there is a PTCL back bone, I also know there is a Fiber optic connection coming along with the oil pipelines, the railway lines and the highways of Pakistan and I am very glad my brother Sheikh Nahyyan that you intend contributing towards this removing of monopoly also by having an extension of fiber optics connectivity all over Pakistan thank you for that.

We also intend privatizing or adding a Submarine cable link into the private sector with that it will complete the assurance that there will be no transfer of monopoly when we dispose off PTCL to the private company.

Lastly ladies and gentlemen I would like to say that Pakistan is an extremely attractive destination for investment for foreign investment and local investment. I just want to high light the few things first of all any investor who brings money into Pakistan looks for two things security of his capital and let me say this with full confidence that any investment, foreign investment in 3 Pakistan has remained secure all along and it is much more secure now because we have also ensure legal frame work ensuring its security.

The second thing they want to look at profitability and the return, I know that all foreign companies today which are 700 are making profits in double figures, many of them making profit between 20 percent and 30 percent I know that because I got these figures we don’t grudge that as long as it is win win situation for them and for Pakistan and it is such a situation therefore the two major aspects of security and profitability are ensured in Pakistan. Pakistan has also through govt rules and regulations created an investor friendly environment but I will not go into the details of those rules and regulations.

The other element in the world must realize and I am going around telling every one we have the cheapest labour in the world I got the figures checked and to my amazement labour cost in Pakistan is .38 dollars an hour, labour cost in India is .57 dollars an hour, labour cost in china is .69 dollars an hour and for you information labour cost in Germany is 31 dollars an hour so the labour cost of Pakistan is the cheapest.

The second element I want to say is that there is no dearth of qualified manpower in Pakistan. We have a large population and we have a large number of qualified people available in Pakistan. the last point that I want to make is that Pakistan needs to be seen not as a stand alone country, Pakistan needs to be seen as the hub of the region, I am not saying that because I happened to be President of Pakistan but I mean it if we see Pakistan’s geography GOD has given us such a strategic location which happens to be at the centre at the cross roads of the gulf to our west of the central Asian republics of the north, of the western region of China which is being developed today to our north east of South Asia and India to our east none of these regions can interact with each other unless Pakistan happens to be playing along with them also all the land locked countries of central Asian republics and access into western region of china out let or inlet is only possible through Pakistan so that is the strategic location of Pakistan with the cheap labour with the qualified man power with the profitability and security of capital Pakistan must be seen as a hub for this whole region a region which accounts for half the of the population of the world so therefore I am very confident that if we in Pakistan play our cards well and we guarantee security and progress of the nation the world will see this reality and will themselves come to Pakistan Inshallah in the future.

In conclusion may I say my brother Sheikh Nahyyan I am very confident that you have made a correct decision of coming into Pakistan I am very confident that you will not regret it, I am very confident that you will make profits and I am very confidant also that your coming here is to benefit Pakistan therefore it is going to be win win for all and I welcome you again and I wish and pray for your success and for the success of Pakistan also. I know under your dynamism Warid will serve as a role model for all others in quality in access to the people. I wish you very well in all your endeavors specially your endeavors in investment in Pakistan let me assure you very sincerely I am with you and Pakistan will never let you down in all your investments in Pakistan.

I thank you for coming. Thank you very much my brother.

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