Cellular companies: PTA for withdrawal of ‘unjustified’ levies by provinces
ISLAMABAD (September 17 2006): The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has asked the federal government to persuade provinces for withdrawal of unjustified charges on cellular companies, which are being passed on to the consumers, official sources told Business Recorder. “Local governments and civic authorities are cashing exponential growth in the telecom sector as a ‘cash cow’ for their fund raising and are levying unjustified exorbitant levies in the form of site clearance charges and NOC fee for installing BTS towers by cellular operators,” the sources added.
Sources said the unjustified levying of undesired taxes on cellular mobile operators would ultimately be transferred to poor consumers, but would also discourage foreign investment in the sector and impede its growth. Apart from taxes levied by the government organisations to grant NOC for installation of BTS towers, the rent demanded for the property owned by these government authorities has also been abnormal and much above the market rates, the sources said, adding that operators have slowed down their proliferation in cantonments and government-owned premises.
Sources said the PTA has been swift in taking up the case with almost all major civic bodies, including DHA, CDA, LDA and cantonment boards, requesting them not to burden the mobile operators with such undue charges for installation of BTS towers and other fees. “The PTA also approached chief ministers of all the four provinces to take measures to stop city governments from charging exorbitant taxes from cellular operators but its efforts have gone unnoticed,” the sources noted.
Only the Punjab government has issued notice to all the civic bodies in the province that a flat rate of Rs 20,000 would be charged annually, for installation of BTS towers, from all the mobile operators against administrative charges, the sources maintained. Sources also said the PTA has recommended to the federal government that civic bodies and all development authorities across the country should be directed to follow the decision of the Punjab government, and impose reasonable flat rate against installation of BTS towers under their jurisdiction and withdraw all other charges. It has also been suggested that civic authorities should also be directed not to charge exorbitant rent for their properties from mobile operators and charge market rate for installing cellular mobile equipment in their jurisdiction.