Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, in a statement shared with ProPakistani, has said that mobile phone companies cannot shut down their services — even for a small while — like other utility companies.
The regulator said that mobile operators are governed under license conditions, rules and regulations issued by PTA, and as per those terms, operators are required to provide uninterrupted telecom services to the subscribers and in case they don’t, the regulator has relevant provisions to take appropriate action.
PTA responded to a report, that was first published by ProPakistani and was later picked by several other outlets, saying that cellular and internet users in Pakistan could face outages due to massive amount of taxes on telecom sector, which were further increased in 2022-23 budget.
PTA clarified in its statement that the report was out of context and incorrect, without denying the fact that cellular companies had actually hinted at potential outages due to exuberant taxes on telecom sector.
The Senate Standing Committee on Finance had invited telecom companies to a meeting on June 17 to get input on budget proposals related to the telecom industry.
The representatives of three mobile operators provided suggestions for rationalization of GST on telecom services (which was raised from 16.5% to 19.5% in recent budget) as well as an overall reduction of taxation. The industry is already raising its concerns around the same arguments at various forums as well.
Increase of any additional duties, such as on import of fiber optic, was also discussed (which increased from 10% to 20%) which will potentially slow down the enhancement of fibre infrastructure, critical for internet connectivity across the country.
The difficulties faced by operators, including the current spell of electricity load shedding as the potential impediment to provision of round the clock mobile services was also highlighted.