Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, revealed on Thursday that several members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet are against the 75 paisas tax on mobile calls that exceed five minutes and vowed to get it reversed.
He revealed this while addressing at a contract signing ceremony between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Jazz, for providing high-speed mobile broadband services in Multan and Khanewal Districts of Southern Punjab.
The federal minister reassured the telecom industry that he is working to get voice call tax reversed as it is affecting common man and industry as well.
“In the cabinet meeting on June 11, 2021 before the budget, when the slide containing proposed tax on mobile calls and data was displayed, the Ministry of IT and Telecom openly objected to it. Foreign Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar and Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar openly supported the ministry’s stance. Prime Minister referred it to Finance Division and it was withdrawn”, he added.
He said that, “Unfortunately on June 25th, addressing in the Senate of Pakistan, Finance Minister Shaukar Tarin announced 75-paisa tax on calls exceeding 5 minutes. In principle I disagreed. I had a courage to say this and discussed the matter with Prime Minister. We will discuss this matter and will try to withdraw this tax”, said the minister, adding that they are on the same page with the telecom sector on this matter.
During the wind-up budget speech 2021-2022, the Minister for Finance, Shaukat Tareen, said that there will be no tax on the Internet and SMS, but a tax of 75 paisas will be charged on mobile calls that are longer than five minutes.
The government had initially announced that in order to reap reasonable revenue from this sector, federal excise on mobile phone calls exceeding three minutes at Rs. 1 per call, SMS messages at Rs. 0.1 per SMS, and internet data usage at Rs. 5 per GB is being proposed.
However, after facing severe criticism, the Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Cabinet “did not approve” the federal excise duty on internet data. He assured that the duty will not be included in the final draft of the Finance Bill that was put before the Parliament for approval.
The government’s decision to impose an additional 75 paisa tax after 5 minutes on mobile call will approximately generate an additional Rs. 20 to 30 billion.