Telecom sector being maligned in public domain
ISLAMABAD: The telecom sector on Saturday released a joint statement refuting recent reports issued in the media that have supported the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) allegations of non-deposit of sales tax on interconnection charges over the last five years.
The statement was issued following incorrect media reports claiming that the telecom sector had agreed to make payments against alleged tax evasion as claimed by the NAB. The telecom sector has also refuted the claim that they have at this stage threatened the stoppage of their services in response to the inquiry currently being conducted by the NAB on the issue of alleged evasion of federal excise duty. However, the telecom sector strongly reserves the right to take all necessary measures at the appropriate time to protect the mobile telecom industry and to record their legitimate protest against the unjustifiable persecution and media trial to which the industry is being subjected.
A representative of the telecom sector has revealed that no agreement has been reached with the NAB on the payment of this alleged tax evasion, and the sector has requested a period of one week to prepare a legal response to the allegations levelled against it by NAB. The source also clarified that this alleged tax evasion is based on a misinterpreted understanding of the facts and procedures of law related to the case. The telecom sector has highlighted that the sector first learned about the alleged tax evasion and its extent through reports circulating in the media in the past few weeks. NAB and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have never issued any show-cause notice or demand or shared how these figures were calculated against the revenues of each telecom organisation against their operations over the last five years.
The telecom sector has also highlighted that in addition to the stay order from Islamabad High Court, it has also approached the office of the prime minister, as well as the National Assembly and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to notify them of the media and public trial that the sector is being subjected to. It should be noted here that a highly publicised hearing of the NA’s Standing Committee on ICT reached a unanimous conclusion that the telecom sector has not been involved in the alleged tax evasion and the subcommittee was constituted to fix the responsibility on the FBR official who was responsible for this alleged claim of tax evasion. This conclusion was reached following supporting statements by independent tax and legal experts, the FBR, and the PTA.
In the light of the above, the telecom sector humbly requests the support of the media in creating clarity in the public domain to put an end to this damaging public trial for the telecom sector to save these foreign investments within the already fragile economy of the country.