Withholding tax exemption for cellular consumers under consideration

ISLAMABAD: The Committee on Issues of Cellular Mobile Operators has agreed to prepare proposals for withdrawal of withholding tax as a relief for cellular consumers in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

First meeting of the Committee on Issues of Cellular Mobile Operators was held here on Monday. Federal Secretary Ministry of IT Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui chaired the meeting.

It was decided that proposals shall be prepared for withdrawal of withholding tax for 90 days as a relief for cellular consumers during this situation in addition to the tax harmonization between Federation and provinces regarding FED/GST.

In line with directions of the Prime Minister, Committee on Issues of Cellular Mobile Operators was formed to evaluate the issues of Cellular Mobile Operators and formulate recommendations for onward submission to the Prime Minister’s Office including settlement of license renewal matters with cellular mobile operators that shall help the government in valuable income generation in the current crisis situation.

Matters related to, additional spectrum allocation in Pakistan and AJK & GB, mutually agreed license renewal frameworks, tax rationalization, Right of Way (RoW) and reduction of NADRA Biometric Verification Charges were discussed during the meeting.

During the meeting, NADRA was requested to reduce charges of biometric verification of SIM especially in view of this situation resulted after COVID-19 in the country.

Representative of NADRA sought sometime to discuss the matter with its Chairman and Board. The Chair directed NADRA to give its version in this regard next week.

Ministry of Industries and Production agreed to the proposal that Telecom sector should be given functional Industry status.

The telecom operators shared serious interest in additional spectrum auction in Pakistan and AJK & GB to facilitate quality mobile broadband services necessary assist people especially students and professional to work from home and comply to COVID_19 related advisory.

The Chair emphasised the need for urgent availability of required spectrum in Pakistan and AJK & GB and that Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Northern Areas has already been sensitized to take lead on the matter for their respective areas in line with applicable laws.

The Chair directed PTA and telecom industry to work together to firm up proposals regarding data pricing to avoid abuse of service.

The meeting was attended by senior officers of the Ministry of IT, Cabinet Division, Ministry Finance, Ministry of Industries & Production, Federal Board of Revenue, representatives from PTA, NADRA and Cellular Mobile Operators.

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