Govt likely to roll out incentives for telecom sector’s uplift

ISLAMABAD: In an effort to facilitate cellular mobile operators (CMOs) amid COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government is likely to announce an ‘incentive package’ for the telecom sector.

According to sources, the government representatives met on Thursday under the chair of Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to deliberate upon the telecom sector’s proposals regarding fee reduction and tax-related issues.

Sources said that the telecom sector has asked the government for a 50pc reduction in the upcoming pay out of their Annual Regulatory Dues (ARDs) to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

In addition, the CEOs of telecom companies also requested temporary abolishment of withholding tax in wake of COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

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Moreover, they asked the federal and provincial governments to work together for the rationalization of general sales tax (GST) at 16pc on a countrywide basis, and called also for the temporary suspension of taxes on data services.

The telecom sector further requested the government to suspend Rs23 charged by NADRA for data verification through Biometric Verification Service (BVS) as well as Rs10 on simple biometric verification upon the sale of all types of SIMs.

The CMOs also complained about delays in the launch of 3G/4G services in Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Federal Information Technology and Telecom Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui told the meeting a high-level committee had already been constituted to formulate recommendations for the resolution of issues being faced by the telecom sector and its final recommendations would be completed by 28th April 2020.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh assured the CMOs of his full support and cooperation for the resolution of all issues jeopardizing telecom sector’s growth.

The meeting also attended by Industries & Production Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, secretaries of finance and IT divisions and CEOs of major cellular companies.

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