Telecom player demands WHT abolition
A major mobile services industry player has urged the government to consider abolishing the withholding tax (WHT) on telecom sector in the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2023-24.
Highlighting the exorbi-tant taxes of 34.5% on tele-com users, Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim emphasised that the withdrawal of WHT would promote the afford-ability of mobile broadband for the low-income seg-ments of society. He foresaw average mo-bile data consumption reaching 12 CBs by 2028 and called for framing enabling policies in order to con-tinue meeting Pakistan's growing data demand.
The cellular subscriber in Pakistan now uses an aver-age of 7.5 CBs of mobile data per month (as of January 2023), a significant increase from just 2 CBs in 2018.
If this trend continues, the cellular subscriber could be using up ton CBs per month in the next five years. These insights were shared by the Jazz CEO while talking to The Express Tribune. He called telecom and internet crucial utilities for productivity, much like electricity for the third industrial revolution.
"Our industries, such as software development, IT-enabled services, and our marketplaces no longer rely on physical locations but instead operate on smart-phones and require a reliable intemet connection," he pointed out.
The growth in data demand has been supported by an investment of $4 billion by the cellular operators in Pakistan. While stressing that in-creased data growth delivers enormous socioeconomic dividends, Aamir cautioned that the telecom industry's dollarised cost structure had caused the average revenue per user (ARPU) to dip to $0.75 - the lowest globally.
"An ARPU below $1.5 is not sustainable for the industry to operate."