Internet escapes tax net
LAHORE: The Punjab government on Friday withdrew tax on internet services apparently on ‘pressure of social media’.
Hundreds of websites in the country had been displaying a message “Don’t tax the internet” as part of their blackout campaign against the tax.
The Punjab government on May 28 through an SRO had imposed 19.5pc tax on all kinds of internet usage for those with Rs1,500 or above monthly bills or 2Mbps and above broadband speeds, 3G, 4G, DSL, EVO, fiber etc.
Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha announced withdrawal of tax on internet services in her budget 2015-16 speech in the Punjab Assembly.
The cellular mobile operators had also announced their support to the digital media in its demand to withdraw the tax on internet. The operators said the tax would hamper the current 3G/4G uptake that has reached 15 million subscriptions in just one year of launch.
“The Punjab government is likely to collect Rs3 billion in taxes from the sector this year, however, corresponding negative growth on internet uptake due to these taxes will cause the national economy an estimated loss of up to Rs200 billion in five years,” they said.
Information Communication and Technology Think Tank (ICT3) President Sohaib Sheikh welcomed the Punjab government decision, saying revoking 19.5pc tax on internet services showed that the government had given due respect to the digital community and telecom sector.
“The Punjab government will witness the data growth momentum in days to come since the fear is over after this tax being revoked,” he said.
Mr Sheikh further said there was a need to reduce the tax burden on fast-growing, high-potential sectors like telecom and ICT to give them the freedom to grow faster, enrich the economy with healthy revenue-streams and create new employment opportunities.