As we all know that Punjab had agreed to withdraw internet taxes that it had imposed on May 28th, 2015 but now as they have backtracked from their earlier commitment, government says that internet taxes were never withdrawn in the first place so its not a U-turn.
Dr Raheel Siddique, Chairman Punjab Revenue Authority, while speaking with Dawn said that government has decided in principle to impose 19.5pc tax on Internet use by cell phone users. However, keeping in view education and research aspect, the government has exempted the ISPs from this tax, Mr. Siddique said.
Asked why the Punjab government backed out of its earlier pledge, PRA Chairman without replying to the question said: “We fail to understand why Punjab is being criticised for this tax which is also imposed in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
Punjab Govt believes that internet taxes were imposed on May 28th, 2015 and were never withdrawn
Mr. Siddque, while issuing a political statement, failed to mention that mobile internet taxes aren’t charged in both KPK and Sindh due to litigation.
This is happening despite Finance Minister Punjab announced in her budget speech the withdrawal of internet taxes and said that notification will be taken back.
This announcement by Punjab Finance Minister had come following a blackout campaign by major Pakistani websites.
Screen-grab from Back-out campaign of Digital Publishers
Representatives of Punjab Government had approached website owners on June 13th, 2015 — the day Punjab budget was presented — and requested to end the blackout campaign and confirming that cabinet had withdrawn the taxes and announcement will be made during the budget speech.
Digital publishers had ended their blackout campaign only after the announcement of withdrawal of internet taxes
As promised, announcement was made during the budget speech and blackout campaign was ended with appreciative note on the move made by Punjab.
Umar Saif, Chairman PITB commenting on Punjab Govt’s Decision
Now, however, the government thinks that Finance Minister’s speech bears no legal binding and tax was imposed through a notification on May 28th, 2015 which is still in place. And hence there’s no backing off as tax was never withdrawn.
Website owners are disgruntled as they think that they have been played by the Punjab government. It merits mentioning here that ProPakistani was also part of this blackout campaign.
ProPakistani and other website owners — after Punjab withdrew the taxes — were also making efforts to get KPK taxes reversed as well, which are already in court and withheld by the Peshawar high court.