Senate opposes tax on incoming international calls

During the Upper House session on Friday, a call attention notice was presented on the increase in tax on incoming international calls.

Leader of House, Senator Jahangir Badar said the new tax was imposed by the Ministry of Information Technology after obtaining approval from the prime minister. He said it would curtail grey trafficking in the telecom sector and would also bring in revenue of $500 million every month. Main purpose of the imposition of the tax was to bring parity in call rates, he claimed.

Terming the tax on overseas calls injustice with Pakistanis residing abroad, the senators demanded the immediate withdrawal of ICH to normalize the incoming tariffs. Treasury legislators belonging to the PPP, PML-N, PML-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said some officials of the Cabinet Division were behind this decision and warned that the foreign exchange inflow would be depleted by the tax.

Senator Raza Rabbani said the tax was implemented with the collusion of the LDI operators and the regulatory authority, and it was part of a conspiracy to save billions in payments. He urged immediate withdrawal of the levy.

“The world is moving towards free phone calling, while Pakistan is enhancing the rates; it is regrettable,” he remarked. The senator said all the regulators, including OGRA, NEPRA and PTA, were involved in cartelization in collusion with big companies and worked for the interests of these companies at the expense of consumers.

Speaking during the session, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Senator Kamil Ali Agha said “remittances by overseas Pakistanis had already dropped by 10 percent, and the tax on incoming international calls would lead to a further decrease in remittances, which are backbone of the Pakistan economy.”

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