‘Industry’ Status Given To The Telecom Sector

The Federal Minister for IT said that under the decision of the Federal Cabinet, , the telecom sector has been given the status of Industry while in the next financial year 2021-22.

On recommendations of the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, the Federal Cabinet has approved to give status of industry to the telecom sector and the gradual reduction of various heavy taxes imposed on the telecom sector and mobile phone users. This is a major achievement that will directly benefit not only mobile phone users but will also help spread the spirit of digital Pakistan (connectivity) to remote areas of the country. This was stated by Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haq while addressing a crowded press conference at the Press Information Department here on Thursday.
The Federal Minister for IT said that under the decision of the Federal Cabinet, , the telecom sector has been given the status of “Industry” while in the next financial year 2021-22, advance income tax on mobile phone users will be reduced from 12.5% to 10% and in the financial year 2022-23 to 8%. Similarly, the federal excise duty (FED) on telecommunication services has been reduced from 17% to 16%.
According to Syed Amin-ul-Haq, the Fee of Rs. 250 on the issuance of new SIM is being abolished. The Cabinet also approved the introduction of a simple and easy tax system and exemption of the telecom sector from all withholding taxes and complex collections.
He said that the Cabinet has also approved to reduce the tax on telecommunication services from 8% to 3% for all telecommunication companies with PTA license. The Federal Minister said that Cabinet also approved reduction of 4% customs duty and 9% regulatory duty on import of telecommunication equipment as well as on raw materials of optical fiber cable manufacturing industry. It has also issued instructions to the FBR to reduce taxes from 20% and 7% to 5% and 3% respectively.
Later, on the question of the first press conference and performance by the MoITT in two and a half years, Federal Minister Syed Amin ul Haq said that it was his commitment that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of “Digital Pakistan” the Ministry of IT will not hold a press conference until the projects are put into practice and on the path of Digitization as we believe in practical steps instead of air talk. These projects and initiatives are also directly and indirectly creating thousands jobs.
Talking about performance of MoiTT and its attached Organizations, Syed Amin-ul-Haq said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, after the preparation of the Right of Way Policy, the credit for the revolutionary initiative of getting its approval from all forums also goes to the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication. The policy sets out a fee structure for working in the required areas. Similarly, telecom facilities will be considered as “critical infrastructure” and no obstruction or unnecessary problems will be allowed for this purpose. ۔ Other important issues, including “Common Services Corridor”, security of telecom infrastructure, safety measures on health principles, have been included in the Right of Way policy, which will be binding on all concerned agencies and administrations, and it is a kind of one window operation.
The Federal Minister said that the Universal Service Fund of the Ministry of IT has played a major role in the outstanding performance under which 32 different projects worth about Rs. 22 billion have been launched during the 31 months of the present government. And in 10,132 villages in 50 districts of Unserved and Underserved areas, broadband services are being provided to facilitate about 4 million people.
According to Syed Amin-ul-Haq, the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) has received 40% additional export remittances in the first six months of the current financial year till December 31, 2020 and Insha’Allah by the end of this financial year, It will also cross the billion target. Under the PSEB, dozens of projects titled “Tech DestiNation Pakistan” have been launched to promote the IT industry. The aim is to provide facilities and training opportunities to IT professionals and IT companies as well as to attract local and foreign investors.

He said that on the other hand, work has been started expeditiously for laying a network of software technology parks across the country under which 40 software technology parks STPs have been set up in Swat, Bannu, Quetta, Faisalabad, Karachi and Sukkur under public private partnership. The parks in Gilgit and Hyderabad are making millions of dollars in business within a few months of their establishment. Similarly, PC 1, was submitted to provide “Rental Subsidy” to 25 software technology parks in small areas. “The foundation stone for the establishment of IT parks in Karachi and Islamabad at a total cost of Rs 44 billion will be laid soon”, he added.
The Federal Minister said that the National IT Board (NITB), had provided all the technical facilities and support for the structure of the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) during the outbreak of Covid-19 without its support, it would have been almost impossible to establish in the short term. NITB has also developed 35 useful mobile applications and web portals for providing public services at the fingertips under Digital Pakistan Vision, including Pak Naghaban, Covid-19 Information Platform, Resource Management System for NDMA, Real Time Dashboard. Facilities for various platforms including NCOC, Yaran Watan, Smart Lockdown System, e-Education, Betty Application etc..
He said that under IGNITE, incubation centers have been set up in 5 major cities of the country where 691 start-ups have registered themselves. Similarly, plans to set up more Incubation Centers in Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Kamra, Mardan and other cities are in the final stages. More than 1.7 million people have so far enrolled through the online training platform of “Digi Skills”, said Minister.
Syed Amin-ul-Haq said that the performance of the SCO under the Ministry of IT and Telecom in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir has also been exemplary in the present government. The SCO received revenue from Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir for its services in 2018-19, an increase of 40 per cent over the previous year, i.e. Revenue of Rs. 5.50 billion was achieved in 2019-20. Minister said that the GSM network in Gilgit-Baltistan was expanded to 75% in last two years under SCO for which 350 mobile towers were installed to upgrade from 2G network to 4G network, while 200 more towers are being installed this year.

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