Syed Amin Ul Haque, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, revealed on Thursday that a number of members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet are rejected to the 75 paisa tax on cellular calls that last more than 5 minutes and have vowed to have it repealed.
He released a statement while speaking at a contract signing ceremony between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Jazz for the provision of high-speed cellular broadband in the Multan and Khanewal districts of Southern Punjab.
The federal minister reassured the telecom industry that he is working to have the voice call tax removed because it affects both the general public and business.
When the slide containing the proposed tax on cellular calls and knowledge was shown in the cabinet meeting on June 11, 2021 prior to the budget, the Ministry of IT and Telecom openly objected to it. Overseas Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar, and Federal Minister for Power Hammad Azhar all openly supported the ministry’s position. “It was withdrawn after the Prime Minister referred it to the Finance Division,” he added.
He stated, “Unfortunately, on June twenty-fifth, addressing the Senate of Pakistan, Finance Minister Shaukar Tarin introduced a 75-paisa tax on calls lasting more than 5 minutes.” In principle, I disagreed. I had the audacity to say this and brought it up with Prime Minister. We’ll talk about it and see if we can get this tax removed,” said the minister, adding that they’re on the same page as the telecom industry on this issue.
Shaukat Tareen, the Minister of Finance, stated in his final budget speech for 2021-2022 that there will be no tax on the Internet or SMS, but that a tax of 75 paisas will be levied on cellular calls lasting more than 5 minutes.
The federal government initially announced that, in order to generate low-cost revenue from this sector, a federal excise on cell phone calls lasting more than three minutes at Rs. 1 per name, SMS messages at Rs. 0.1 per SMS, and web knowledge utilisation at Rs. 5 per GB is being proposed.
Nonetheless, in the face of harsh criticism, the Minister for Power, Hammad Azhar, stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Cabinet “didn’t approve” the federal excise duty on internet knowledge. He assured that the responsibility would not be included in the final draught of the Finance Bill that was presented to Parliament for approval.
The federal government’s decision to impose a further 75 paisa tax on cellular names after 5 minutes will generate an additional Rs. 20 to 30 billion.