Withdrawal of taxes on internet were announced in today’s budget Speech by Dr Ayesha Ghaus, Finance Minister Punjab, in Punjab Assembly. She said that Punjab government has decided to not to tax internet in the province.
Punjab Government had imposed 19.5% taxes on May 28th, 2015 through an SRO. Taxes were applicable on all sorts of data usage including DSL, 3G, 4G, EVDO, WiMAX, FTTH, etc. from May 29th, 2015.
It was feared that other provinces could follow Punjab by taxing all kinds of internet, including mobile data.
Punjab’s decision for taxing internet met with massive criticism from industry and consumers alike. Stakeholders raised voice against the taxes and cautioned the provincial government of the monetary losses that national economy could face due to internet taxes.
Punjab’s decision will discourage any future efforts from federal and other provincial governments for taxing the internet.
Digital publishers also raised voice against the taxes and blacked out their websites in protest against the said taxes.
Leading websites including UrduPoint.com, Ilmkidunya.com, Siasat.pk, HamariWeb.com, Comics by Arsalan, The News Tribe, Pak Hungama, NetMag and dozens of other websites and internet celebrities joined the campaign and kept their home-screens black in protest against internet taxes.
All protesting digital publishers and bloggers announced the immediate stoppage of black-out campaign.
Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Dr. Ismail Shah, also rejected the taxes and played a role in convincing Punjab government for taking back the taxes.
ICT3, a think tank on telecom, through its president Sohaib Sheikh, also played a vital role in raising the concerns of the industry.
Reversal of taxes on Internet will act as a catalyst for internet (and smartphones) uptake in the country. Not to mention, internet users grew 500% during past one year and this growth is likely to sustain for at least next three years.
Punjab’s decision for reversal of internet taxes will discourage any future efforts from federal and other provincial governments for taxing the internet.