Govt extracts Rs100bn more from telecom sector

Published January 11, 2023
The number of new consumers and the data consumpton have increased 31pc and 16pc in 2021-22.—Dawn/file
The number of new consumers and the data consumpton have increased 31pc and 16pc in 2021-22.—Dawn/file

ISLAMABAD: The consumers of telecom and internet services paid Rs100 billion more in duties and levies during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022, as the PMLN-led coalition government increased the tax rates soon after coming to power in April 2022.

Overall the telecom sector contributed Rs325.2bn to the national exchequer in 2021-22 compared to Rs225.8bn in the preceding fiscal year.

The number of new data users rose by over 16pc to 118.76 million from 102m in FY21, showed the Annual Report 2022 released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Tuesday.

The telecom sector invested a total of $2.07bn and paid Rs222.7bn in taxes and Rs102.5bn in Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) auction and licence renewals.

The report also highlighted encouraging telecom statistics and expanding the usage of telecom services across Pakistan. The PTA has said despite a challenging year marked by rising inflationary pressures and profitability concerns, the telecom sector performed well due to a progressive and enabling regulatory environment.

For the first time in the country’s history, the import volume of mobile handsets registered a decline as most of the local demand was met through indigenously manufactured products. Pakistan manufactured 41.35 million mobile handsets but the share of smartphones was not even half of it at 17.3m sets from January 2021 to September 2022.

The local mobile sets manufacturing has resulted in the creation of skilled jobs, while many international brands such as Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Techno and Infinix have already entered Pakistan as manufacturers. Pakistan has over 197 million telecom subscribers both fixed and mobile, with teledensity touching 90pc.

The biometrically verified SIMs/subscribers have increased to 194m, whereas, broadband subscriptions grew to 124m with 56pc penetration. Pakistan’s annual mobile data usage has crossed 8,970 petabytes around 6.8 GB per subscriber per month with an annual growth of 31pc.

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association has rated Pakistan as an ‘emerging’

telecom market. The Annual Report also revealed that International Social Media platforms such as Bigo, Snack Video, and Mico were registered by PTA under the prevailing legal framework.

PTA also launched the country’s largest ‘Digital Gender Inclusion Initiative,’ whereby the first ‘Gender Mainstreaming in ICTs’ strategy is being developed. These measures are in addition to efforts aimed at increasing telecom accessibility, availability, and affordability through telecom operators.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023

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