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Mobile broadband sector growing in Pakistan: GSMA

Mobile broadband sector growing in Pakistan: GSMA

ISLAMABAD: The mobile broadband sector is growing in Pakistan and the government is investing in new networks in rural areas, GSMA’s Public Policy Manager for Asia Pacific Henry Parker said Thursday.

Addressing the annual report launching ceremony here, he recommended a few more steps to the government for giving a further boost to the broadband sector by providing access to all citizens, having mobile phone, to the fastest internet facilities.

The event was co-hosted by Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) and the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA). He suggested the government to reduce sales tax, federal excise duty, withholding tax and abolish the SIM tax in the upcoming federal budget.

Currently, Henry said, sales tax and federal excise duty are charged at the rates of 18.5 percent to 19.5 percent for mobile services than others.

The rates should be harmonized at 17 percent, adding that this would help make services and phones more affordable for all levels of the society.

Commenting on the SIM tax, he said Rs 250 tax was a cost barrier in the way of acquiring a mobile that was imposed regardless of ability to pay, saying “it should be abolished.”

About withholding tax, he said mobile consumers were paying more without tax than consumers in any other sector and it should be brought to 12 percent.

Government of Pakistan is investing in new networks in rural areas to boost growth of mobile broadband to provide affordable connectivity for all citizens.

An official of PRIME, Huzaima Bukhari highlighted the effects of the tax sector, which she felt was regressive and burdening the lowest income segments of society.

Dr Ikram ul Haq observed that Pakistan’s telecom sector was one of the highest taxed in the entire world. Pakistan is one of those handful of countries where SIM activation taxes are still levied.

He showed concern at the fact that heavy taxes on the sector had not only discouraged usage, but also driven revenues and sectoral investment down significantly.—APP

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