Senate Committee Orders FBR to Review Telecom Policy

Senate Committee Orders FBR to Review Telecom Policy

ISLAMABAD Zubair Kasuri: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to review its policy on penalizing telecom companies in cases involving non-filers. The directive comes amid growing concerns over industry issues.

The committee, headed by Senator Salim Mandviwala, addressed the matter in today’s meeting. They instructed the FBR to establish a systematic penalty framework for non-filers. This initiative coincides with significant challenges facing the telecom industry, which currently has only two operating companies in Pakistan.

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Industry representatives highlighted that billions of rupees have been invested in the sector, with 100 billion rupees dedicated to internet infrastructure. However, the high tax rate on mobile recharges for non-filers, set at 75 percent, has led to a marked decline in mobile phone usage and revenue.

The committee was informed that numerous companies have already exited the market and others are on the brink of closure due to the stringent tax regime. A telecom industry representative appealed to the committee to address the issue, emphasizing the sector’s critical role in Pakistan’s economic growth and digital development.

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Sources within the telecom industry noted that this sector does not receive any funding from the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) and relies entirely on foreign direct investment (FDI). Four major telecom operators have already exited Pakistan due to the unfavorable environment for foreign investors.

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The committee has requested the FBR to reassess the penalty mechanism imposed on telecom companies and to submit a report within two weeks. This move is seen as a positive step towards resolving long-standing issues and providing much-needed relief to the struggling telecom industry.

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