Government continues tax collection on Mobile Internet
Despite repeated orders from Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ayesha Ghause, the Punjab Finance Department refuses to stop the Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) from collecting taxes on mobile internet and data roaming.
As confirmed by PRA, it now collects 19.5 percent GST on data services exceeding speed of 2Mps or above Rs 1,500 connection including 3G and 4G, and will continue to do until an official notification is received from the provincial government.
Although, Dr. Ayesha Ghause had announced the withdrawal of the mobile internet taxes on floor of House in her budget speed on June 12, the PRA says it needs an official notification from the provincial government to stop levying the tax.
Officials at the PRA, who wanted to remain anonymous, have blamed the Punjab Government for being disingenuous. They said that the provincial government only showed that it was in favor of removing the tax in public but privately have asked the bureaucracy to continue levying it.
Officials of mobile operators have also blamed the provincial government for being dishonest and have suggested it should keep its commitment to the masses and release an official notification to stop PRA from collecting the tax.
Tax collection in the telecom sector has been a delicate and often controversial topic. On one hand, the telecom industry presents a fruitful and well-documented industry for the government for relatively easier collection of taxes, while on the other too much taxation pressure keeps the sector from further investing a large portion of its revenue into advancing infrastructure.