ISLAMABAD: A high-level committee was constituted on Tuesday to evaluate the concerns and demands of the telecom sector.

The Ministry of Information and Technology (MoIT) said the 13-member committee — formed on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan — will be led by Secretary IT Shoaib Siddique. The committee also includes representatives from all relevant government departments, Nadra and the private sector.

A senior official of MoIT told Dawn that a letter signed by the senior management of Jazz, Zong, Telenor and Ufone was sent to Secretary IT on April 2 in which the key demand was to reduce taxes being paid by the consumers mainly on account loading.

The telecom sector has asked the government to suspend 12 per cent withholding tax being levied on the consumers. It further sought reduction of GST from 19.5pc to 16pc on mobile telephony and suspension of 19.5pc GST on internet.

The telecom sector claims that this will help consumers maintain affordability since markets and other major business generating activities have been suspended due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Another concern of the cellular companies was collection of Rs23 per verification by Nadra. This amount accounts to around Rs140 million per month. The telecom companies have demanded the government that this amount may be eased off for the time.

The four companies have also asked the government to reduce certain regulatory duties and reduce the annual regulatory duty being paid to the Pakistan Telecom­munication Authority by 50pc for year 2020.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020