KARACHI: The Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has proposed in the budget speech presented before the National Assembly to enhance the federal excise duty on mobile phone calls exceeding three minutes at Rs1 per call, SMS message Rs0.1 per SMS, and internet data usage at Rs5 per GB.

He said the decision has been taken in order to reap reasonable revenue from the Telecom Sector.

This will also result in mild taxation of a broad spectrum of the population, he added. 

WHT on mobile services to be reduced from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent, and to be further reduced to 8 per cent eventually, the minister announced.

According to a telecom industry analyst, the new taxes imposed on telecom users will make access to the basic right of connectivity out of the reach of the common man and adversely affect the government’s vision of Digital Pakistan.

The net impact of telecom-related taxes could have an overall negative impact despite the reduction in FED and WHT. The 3.5 per cent relief overall could be easily offset for a user who consumes 1GB of data or makes calls lasting 3 minutes or longer.

Pakistan is already low as 90th in the world for internet inclusion and 2nd last in Asia.

Pakistani consumer is already paying Withholding Tax and other indirect taxes (one of the highest in the world), an analyst in Telecom industry said.

If Rs5 is charged on 1 GB of data then an average student uses 25 GB for online classes per month, why this tax imposed on students, he claimed.

The author is a senior business reporter with bylines in leading newspapers and magazines across Pakistan.

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