ISLAMABAD: The first meeting of the Committee on Issues of Cellular Mobile Operators was held on Monday under the chair of IT Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui.
In line with directions of the prime Minister, the committee was formed to evaluate the issues of cellular mobile operators and to formulate recommendations pertaining to settlement of licence renewal matters for onward submission to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Matters related to additional spectrum allocation in Pakistan and AJK & GB, mutually agreed license renewal frameworks, tax rationaliaation, Right of Way (RoW) and reduction of NADRA biometric verification charges were discussed in detail during the meeting.
NADRA was requested to reduce charges for biometric verification of SIMs, especially in view of the prevalent situation caused by COVID-19 in the country.
Representatives of NADRA sought time to discuss the matter with its board. The chair directed NADRA to give its version in this regard by next week.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industries and Production agreed to a proposal that the telecom sector should be given the status of an “industry”.
Also, telecom operators shared serious interest in additional spectrum auction in Pakistan and AJK & GB to facilitate quality mobile broadband services necessary to assist people, especially students and professionals, to work from home and comply with COVID-19-related advisory.
The chair emphasised the need for urgent availability of required spectrum in Pakistan and AJK & GB, noting that the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Northern Areas has already been sensitised to take lead on the matter in line with applicable laws.
It was decided that proposals shall be prepared for the withdrawal of withholding tax for 90 days, besides tax harmonization between the federation and provinces regarding FED/GST.
The chair directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom industry to work together to firm up proposals regarding data pricing to avoid abuse of service.
The meeting was attended by senior officers of the Ministry of IT, Cabinet Division, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industries & Production, Federal Board of Revenue, representatives of PTA, NADRA and cellular mobile operators.