Consumers revolt as Amman mulls increasing levies on telecom sector

2 Feb 2017

The Jordanian government is considering several ways to generate additional revenue from the sector, including a controversial fee for using over-the-top (OTT) VoIP services, the Jordan Times writes, citing Nader Dhneibat, secretary general of the ICT Ministry. Amongst the measures under consideration are a JOD1 (USD1.4) to JOD2 per month fee for using applications such as Viber or WhatsApp to make calls, a JOD1 per month additional deduction from post-paid subscriptions, extra fees for customers purchasing SIM cards, and a sales tax increase on internet services from 8% to 16%. ‘These scenarios are still under study,’ the official explained, adding: ‘One scenario might be adopted, or two at the same time…Our objective is to support the treasury while at the same time not affect users or harm investments by telcos in the sector.’

Jordan’s telecom sector is already one of the most highly taxed in the region, with a 24% tax on mobile subscriptions, and a 16% special tax on the purchase of mobile phones. Indeed, the revelation that the government was considering levying further charges sparked a protest campaign from customers earlier this week. Social media posts called for a day-long boycott of mobile services, urging users to remove the SIMs from their devices for 24 hours, to pressure service providers into opposing the state’s plans. The outcome of the boycott is still to be seen, but its impact is expected to be largely symbolic, with the financial effect on cellcos likely to be negligible.