Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar Friday denied that additional taxes have been imposed on telecom and the data usage after social media users reacted to a mention of new duties on telecom usage in the budget speech.
Taking to Twitter, the federal minister said that recommendations from the Ministry of Finance to add federal levy were rejected by the cabinet and the prime minister:
"The PM and Cabinet did not approve the FED levy on internet data usage. It will not be included in the final draft of the Finance Bill (budget) that is placed before parliament for approval."
Hammad's comments came after Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, in his speech, suggested charging Rs1 per call if the duration exceeds three minutes, Rs5 per GB for internet usage, and 10 Paisa on each SMS has been imposed — in addition to the existing rates.
The suggestion had attracted criticism from experts in the industry and social media users alike. The former head of Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus said adding more charges to internet prices is a regressive move:
"Great to see some very bold moves in the budget today, but taxing the internet further is regressive and will not help us move towards a Digital Pakistan #Budget2021."
She later thanked Khan for rejecting the recommendation:
Social media user Danish Arain said:
"By Increase in taxes as federal excise on mobile phone calls exceeding three minutes at Rs1 per call, SMS message at Rs0.1 per SMS, and internet data usage at Rs5 per GB. But PTI is claiming it “Awam Dost #Budget”."