Phone Call loadshedding? Telecom firms hint of this new crisis

Following a massive tax increase, telecom companies have raised the alarm and warned of implementing phone Call Loadshedding’ across the country, similar to power outages, according to ARY News on Friday.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, telecommunications officials informed senators that, like electricity, phone call loadshedding would occur in the coming day.

Representatives from the telecom companies briefed members of the Senate’s standing committee. According to them, the government increased the import levy on fibre optics by 15%, resulting in a massive increase in the advance tax.

“We demand that the advance tax on fibre optic imports be reduced to 8%.” The telecom industry’s equipment has been designated as a luxury item. The import duty has also been raised by 20%.”

“Only 10% of Pakistan’s towers were equipped with fibre optics,” they stated. We will lose the global race as a result of the difficult telecom decisions. People will be unable to use ATMs unless fibre optic cables are installed.”

After hearing the telecom companies’ arguments, the Senate committee recommended that the federal government reduce relevant taxes on fibre optic imports.

Companies say that after further hardships, we will be left behind in the world. In future, there will be load shedding of phone calls like electricity. Without fiber optics, people will not be able to use ATMs.

PTA Clarification statement

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance had invited cellular mobile industry in their meeting on June 17 to get input on budget proposals related to the telecom industry. The representatives of three mobile operators provided suggestions on rationalisation of GST on telecom services as well as reduction of taxation which industry is already raising at various forums. Increase of any additional duties such as on import of fibre was also discussed which will potentially slow down the enhancement of fibre infrastructure, critical for internet connectivity across the country.

The difficulties faced by operators, including the current spell of electricity load shedding as the potential impediment to provision of round the clock mobile services was also highlighted. However, in a section of media it was portrayed as if load shedding of mobile phone services would also be started. This is incorrect and out-of context. The mobile operators are governed under license conditions, rules and regulations issued by PTA. Operators are required to provide uninterrupted telecom services to the subscribers and in case they don’t, the regulator has relevant provisions to take appropriate action.

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