The Ministry of Finance has agreed to release blocked payments to international service providers including Google Playstore – a move that will avert the looming suspension of paid services of the Google PlayStore in Pakistan. He also said that Telcos had also been given a month to implement the new payment procedure in line with the instructions of the SBP.
Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Aminul Haque said it while briefing the media on his discussion with the relevant authorities. The minister sprang into action after reports emerged that paid services of the Google Play Store would not be available to users in Pakistan from Dec 1 as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had blocked $34 million in payments to the international service providers by suspending direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism.
While the SBP had dismissed as “baseless and misleading” reports that it had withheld payments to Google, the telecom industry and other stakeholders maintained that all was not well and there were at least some “unannounced restrictions” as the government sought to limit dollar outflow.
IT Minister Syed Aminul Haque said on Thursday that the finance ministry had agreed to devise a mechanism for making payments against Google app services and directed the State Bank of Pakistan to delay the revocation of direct carrier billing (DCB) for telecom companies, lessening concerns about the possible unavailability of paid Google apps in Pakistan.
“The Ministry of Finance has agreed to a proposal of Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque with regard to evolving an effective mechanism and making payment against the Google App services. The minister said after the agreement the payment would be made to Google as per the schedule and all its application services to remain intact,”
The statement further quoted Haque as saying the SBP had also been directed to delay the implementation of the DCB policy for one month.
Direct Carrier Billing(DCB) is an online mobile payment method that allows users to make purchases by charging payments directly to their mobile phone carrier bill instead of through a debit or credit card. Last month, the central bank, citing the violation of foreign exchange regulations, announced it was revoking the designation of banks of telcos for making payments on behalf of telecom consumers for video gaming, entertainment content, etc. under DCB.
“However, to facilitate their legitimate IT-related payments, telcos have been advised through their banks to resubmit their requests,” the SBP had said.
The SBP’s move had evoked concerns that direct payments through mobile phone carriers would be unavailable to citizens in the coming days for buying some services. Some reports suggested that the paid Google application and other services would not be available in Pakistan from Dec 1, though free Google applications and other free services would remain available.
Meanwhile, there were also reports that the SBP had revoked the payment of $34 million to international service providers to limit dollar outflow and the subsequent tug-of-war between the IT sector and the State Bank.
The IT ministry’s statement issued today quoted Haque as saying that telecom operators were now being given a month’s time to “implement payment procedures and within a month, the Ministry of IT, Finance and State Bank would formulate a plan of action in mutual consultation in that regard”.
He recalled that at the request of telecom operators, a letter was written to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to make the PlayStore payments and formulate a timeframe for the implementation of payment procedures. MOIT expressed gratitude to Dar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Bajwa for the timely decision on the issue, the IT ministry said.