The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Tuesday announced to abolish the tax on incoming international telephone calls.
The PTA cancelled the agreement made with LDI operators on September 25. It was according to this agreement that international incoming calls were taxed. PTA officials said the decision was made in light of the court’s order.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) had earlier sought a reply from the PTA regarding the levy of an additional tax on incoming international telephone calls and had issued a stay order.
On October 1, the arrival of the International Clearing House (ICH), an administrative bureau initiated by the PTA, gave another rise to international calls.
Purportedly created to police grey traffic, the ICH and its new policies were enabling private sector players to form telecom cartels, resulting in exploitative monopolies that fly in the face of established deregulation policies.
The ICH was meant to streamline all incoming international traffic through a centralized gateway and LDI operators and share the revenues for international incoming traffic based on their current market share with fixed termination charges.
Competition Commission has expressed its concerns relating to implementation of ICH and has said that commission could litigate the matter if ICH is implemented. However, PTA – backed by Ministry of IT – went ahead with the plan and ICH was principally considered operational from October 1st.
According to estimates, there are almost seven million Pakistanis living abroad and monthly incoming international traffic to Pakistan is 1.5 billion minutes per month, which means overseas Pakistanis will have to pay between US $120 million to US $150 million extra to the PTA for calling their family back home.