Will a long-running financial dispute between multinational telecommunications services provider Etisalat and the government of Pakistan be resolved after Etisalat’s latest offer?
According to regional press reports Etisalat has offered the Pakistan government $267 million to settle a row over its purchase of shares in the state-owned Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) more than a decade ago.
Etisalat owns a 26 percent stake in PTCL, agreeing to purchase the stake in 2005 for $2.598 billion. It made an initial payment of $260 million, followed, some four years later, by around $1.4 billion.
Now Etisalat has offered $267 million to settle the 13-year old dispute with an offer said to be one third of the total outstanding dues, which are about $800 million.
Further complicating the issue is the Etisalat argument that the apparent underpayment is justified thanks to properties that Pakistan has not transferred to Etisalat, for reasons that are not entirely clear.
An inter-ministerial committee on Thursday discussed Etisalat’s proposed settlement framework, with meeting chair and adviser to the prime minister on finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh reportedly expressing the desire to bring the matter to a close.
The participants have been asked to come up with a final proposal for the resolution of the pending payments before the end of this month, according to the ministry, though there may still be debates about the proposed value of the untransferred properties that supposedly justify a $533 million shortfall.