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PESHAWAR: Digital publishers from across the country have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to remove the tax on broadband internet and data services of mobile phone companies to give relief to the people of the province on the pattern of Punjab government which withdrew 19.5 per cent General Sales Tax (GST) last month.

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, Aamir Atta, Mudassar Jehangir Mufti and other representatives of telecom companies asked Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to remove the taxes on internet.

They said internet is directly linked to the progress of the province mainly for reforms in governance, development in business and promotion of education in both urban and rural areas of the province.

The representatives said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had 10.5 per cent of the country’s economy having 12 per cent internet users of Pakistan’s total internet subscribers. It has a potential to grow significantly with increasing availability of 3G/4G services in different cities. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa imposed 19.5 per cent taxes on all kinds of internet services (DSL, EVO, 3G, 4G, WiMAX) in 2014.

The digital publishers said the benefits of increased broadband use- with tax-free internet - will also mean feasible and smooth e-health, e-education, e-farming and other similar internet and smartphone based projects.

They said the broadband internet penetration will not only impact positively on academic ventures of the provincial government but will also help flourish the high-tech startup ecosystem involving young educated minds from the province.

The representatives said the cellular mobile operators had written a letter to the chief minister in June, 2015 demanding waiver of General Sales Tax (GST) on internet and data services which is slowing down the penetration of 3G and 4G technologies throughout the province.

The tax rate on telecom services in Pakistan is 40 per cent which is one of the highest effective tax rates in the world.

They said in addition to taxes, 19.5 per cent GST on mobile broadband and data services added burden on the consumers.

Backed by cellular mobile operators, banks, Pakistan Software Association, Internet Service Provider Association of Pakistan, consumer associations and civil society, they also demanded the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan to help withdraw the tax and benefit the youth of the province to better utilise technologies in social sectors mainly in education and health.

Source: The News - 12 Jan 2016

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