The Minister for Finance, Shaukat Tareen, declared that a tax of 75 Paisas will be charged on mobile calls that are longer than five minutes, igniting another public outrage and a demand to revoke this taxation.

As per the telecom industry, the proposed taxes are unimplementable as the charging structure is not linear and is based on bundle offers to facilitate prepaid users which account for 98% of overall cellular subscribers in Pakistan.

Following this, now a five-minute phone call will cost users an approximate Rs2.72 instead of the previous Rs1.97. The 75 paisa tax is in addition to the 19.5% federal excise duty for a voice call. Hence, a user will now be charged 40% additional taxes if the voice call exceeds five minutes.

Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim had also expressed disappointment over the imposition of 40 per cent duty on the price-conscious customers who did not own a smartphone or WhatsApp to make calls.

This regressive move will play havoc with the prepaid bundles being enjoyed by the lowest segment of society as the operators will be constrained to remove such offerings, making voice calling significantly more expensive.

In addition, users will quickly learn to redial before 5 minutes to defeat this proposed levy hence it may bring nothing to the government but add to the complexity for the telecom sector and operators while causing massive inconvenience to the citizens.

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