Response sought from federal, provincial governments on high taxes by mobile networks

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday the federal government, Federal Board of Revenue and provinces to submit a written response in one week over the high taxes charged by mobile phone service operators in the country. 

The orders were given as a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar took up its suo motu notice.

As the hearing went under way, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf informed the Supreme Court that the mobile phone companies charge 19.5 per cent sales tax, 10 per cent service charges and 12.5 per cent withholding tax (WHT).

The chief justice remarked that it is not unfair that WHT is being charged in lieu of those who do not pay taxes.

Chief Justice Nisar inquired how 140 million consumers are charged taxes daily.

The bench also called for the finance minister to apprise it of the law under which these taxes are being charged.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that this is an unlawful way of charging money.

The counsel for a mobile phone service company said 17 per cent tax is being charged in federal areas and 19 per cent in provinces.

On May 3, Chief Justice Nisar had taken notice of the high levy charged on mobile phone cards in the country.

The Supreme Court issued notices to all the mobile telephone operators in the country and summoned the attorney general over the issue.

According to statistics revealed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in January this year, the number of mobile phone users stands at 144 million as compared to 142.5 million in October 2017.