Committee Likely to Recommend Zero Taxes & Industry Status for Telecom Sector

The high-level committee on cellular companies’ issues is likely to recommend the industry status for telecom sector and reduction in taxes to Prime Minister.

The government has constituted a 14 member committee to address the issues of cellular Mobile operators and formulate recommendations for submission to the Prime Minister.

According to the official sources, the committee has further constituted sub-groups on different issues including spectrum allocation, reduction in taxes, industry status, Right of Way (RoW) and directed to firm up proposals.

Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, who chairs the committee, stated that final recommendations are likely to be submitted to Prime Minister Office next month.

He further said that some additional proposals and suggestions were sought from telecom operators are yet to be received. He further said that operators are demanding the industry status as well as a reduction in taxes and additional spectrum.

Some issues have already been raised with different concerned departments while some are related to policy matters, he added.

In line with directions of the Prime Minister, the committee on issues of cellular mobile operators was formed to evaluate the issues of cellular mobile operators and formulate recommendations, including settlement of license renewal matters with cellular mobile operators.

Matters related to, additional spectrum allocation in Pakistan and AJK & GB, mutually agreed license renewal frameworks, tax rationalization, Right of Way (RoW) and reduction of NADRA Biometric Verification Charges have been raised.

Sources further said that NADRA was requested to reduce charges of biometric verification of SIM especially in view of this COVID-19 situation in the country. The representative of NADRA has sought some time to discuss the matter with its Chairman and Board.

The official further said that the Ministry of Industries and Production agreed to the proposal that the telecom sector should be given functional industry status. The telecom operators shared serious interest in additional spectrum auction in Pakistan and AJK & GB to facilitate quality mobile broadband services necessary to assist people especially students and professionals to work from home and comply with COVID-19 related advisory.

The stakeholders emphasized the need for urgent availability of required spectrum in Pakistan and AJK & GB and that Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Northern Areas has already been sensitized to take lead on the matter for their respective areas in line with applicable laws.

It was decided that proposals shall be prepared for the withdrawal of withholding tax for 90 days as a relief for cellular consumers during this situation in addition to the tax harmonization between the Federation and provinces regarding FED/GST.

The chair has directed PTA and telecom industry to work together to firm up proposals regarding data pricing to avoid abuse of service.