Govt to impose new tax on mobile calls

28 Jun 2021

Pakistan’s finance minister has confirmed that the government is planning to impose an additional Federal Excise Duty (FED) of PKR0.75 (USD0.005) on phone calls over five minutes, Dawn writes. The decision follows a recent backlash against a series of proposals for the draft budget for the 2021/2022 financial year which featured additional levies on several mobile services, including a tax of PKR5 per GB of data usage. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the government later clarified that the proposals had been rejected, and had been mistakenly published in a public draft of the budget. Industry players have similarly criticised the new proposal, arguing that it disproportionately affects low-income customers, as smartphone users could evade the charge by using over-the-top (OTT) calling applications such as WhatsApp. Officials from several mobile providers were also reported to have claimed that the tax will be difficult to implement and could potentially impact operators’ ability to provide pre-paid bundles. Customers could also evade the levy by ending their call and redialling every five minutes.