Telecom Companies Protest Rs 100-200m Fine for Failing to Block SIMs of Non-Filers

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, led by Chairman Salim Mandviwala, recently convened to address pressing concerns from telecom companies regarding new budgetary measures implemented by the federal government. As a result, telecom companies protest Rs 100-200m fine for failing to block SIMs of non-filers.

During the session, representatives from the telecom industry voiced strong opposition to these measures, highlighting the undue burdens placed upon them without prior consultation. They emphasized that the government unilaterally imposed the decision to penalize non-filers without involving the industry in the decision-making process.

Telecom Companies Protest Rs 100-200m Fine for Failing to Block SIMs of Non-Filers

The telecom representatives were particularly frustrated with the new directives requiring them to deduct a 75% withholding tax on phone and internet services for non-filers. They argued that the imposed fines, ranging from Rs 100 million to Rs 200 million for non-compliance, were both illegal and unjust. “We are not law enforcement agencies,” one representative stressed, arguing that such measures exceeded their mandated role and were implemented without prior consultation.

Amjad Zubair Tiwana, Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), defended the government’s stance. He affirmed that the Finance Bill 2022 enacted these regulations and Parliament had duly approved them. Tiwana underscored the necessity for telecom companies to comply with the new directives within a strict 15-day timeframe, warning of severe penalties for non-compliance.

The debate also drew critical attention from Senator Farooq H. Naik, who condemned the punitive nature of the penalties, describing them as unjust and likening them to “the law of the jungle.” Naik’s remarks underscored the growing tension between the government and the telecom sector over the new regulations.

See Also: Govt. Proposes 75% Higher Mobile Phone Call Rates For Non-Filers

This contentious issue has also sparked anxiety among foreign investors in the telecom sector, who fear the economic repercussions of such stringent regulations. The potential for increased operational costs and the risk of hefty fines have raised concerns about the attractiveness of the Pakistani telecom market for international investment.

As deliberations continue, the telecom industry remains steadfast in seeking amendments to the new regulations. They are calling for a more collaborative approach from the government to address their operational challenges and ensure that future policy changes involve thorough consultation with industry stakeholders.

The ongoing dialogue between the government and the telecom industry is crucial for finding a balanced solution that supports economic growth while addressing the regulatory concerns of telecom companies. The outcome of these discussions will significantly impact the future dynamics of the telecom sector in Pakistan and its appeal to both local and international investors.

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Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger who focuses on providing the latest information regarding the innovations happening in the IT world. She likes reading, photography, travelling and exploring nature.

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