Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said Monday that government was determined to promote digitalization all across the country for increasing outreach and access of financial services to people for sustainable development.

The Finance Minister was speaking at the signing ceremony between Universal Service Fund (USF) and Ministry of Information Technology here for laying optic fiber at Awaran and Lasbela; the contract of which has been by Universal Service Fund to Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone) worth Rs 2.3 Billion. He said the government was working for technical and financial inclusion to provide better services to the people all across the country.

This project will provide Mobile Broadband Internet/3G services to the population in the yet un-served areas of Awaran-Lasbela Lot, consisting of identified un-served 269 Mauzas in Balochistan with an approximate un-served population of 196,177 covering an area of 39,434 Sq. Ft.

Finance Minister said that the national exchequer earned as many as Rs160 billion through six transparent auctions of telecom spectrums, adding that the earning from the spectrum is expected to reach to Rs200 billion. He said that earlier, only Rs50 billion were estimated from the auction of the telecommunication spectrum, however with diligence and transparency mechanism, there has been multifold increase in the earnings.

Chief Guest of the ceremony Finance Minister reiterated government’s resolve to provide internet and mobile access across the country, adding even the remote areas would also be covered in the network to promote digitalization. He said that the villages having even population of just 100 people would also be covered under the network. Although it was not financially viable, but providing these services and facilities to the common people was the duty of the State, he added.

The Finance Minister said that government has been focusing to build infrastructure so attention is on developing telecommunication, highways and railways to ensure proper connectivity. He said that for the sake of better connectivity, the government kick started Multan-Sukkhar project despite the fact that it was not financial viable.

The Minister said that the international institutions are predicting that Pakistan would become the 18th biggest economy by 2050. The challenge to the nation is to materialize this goal in a half time as has been done in case of macro-economic stability, which was predicted by the economic experts  in six years but the present government of Nawaz Sharif achieved in just two and half years.

The Minister said that the merger of all stock exchanges of Pakistan into Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on January 11, 2016 has been bearing fruits as it has been declared 5th fastest performing exchanges now. It was not an easy job which was pending till last 15 years, but the present government did it, he added.

Finance Minister said that due to the untiring efforts of the government, the load-shedding has been reduced down to three hours in cities and frour hours in rural areas. Earlier, when this government assumed the power in 2013, the power outages of 14 hours in cities and 17 hours were recorded in rural areas, he mentioned. “The darkness would be completely vanished by 2018,” he remarked.

Earlier, State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Anusha Rahman gave a detailed presentation on the overall performance of telecommunication sector. He congratulated the Minister Anusha Rehman and her whole team of Ministry of IT, PTA and USF for their landmark achievements in the arena of ICT.