Pakistan’s Supreme Court has suspended the collection of an ‘exorbitant’ tax on pre-paid mobile top-ups, having previously described the deductions as exploitation, the Express Tribune reports. The decision refers to the application of a 42% withholding tax on pre-paid top-ups, which greatly reduces the accessibility of mobile services for poorer citizens. Chief Justice Saqib Nasir said in the ruling: ‘PKR38.08 [USD0.32] is deducted on a pre-paid mobile card of PKR100. This is illegal.’ The court has given companies two days to implement the change.
The apex court had sought replies on the matter from the nation’s telcos and the Attorney General of Pakistan last month, seeking clarification on whether the tax was being implemented in line with the law. ‘The law for withholding taxes appears to be imperfect,’ the Chief Justice was quoted as saying at the time, adding: ‘Withholding taxes cannot be levied on a labourer who earns PKR100 a day.’