Tax on International Call Rates – Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) not relevant to call rates says govt
LHC extended the stay order on the imposition of the tax, which raised international incoming call rates by up to 400 per cent.
Lahore (November 6, 2012) – Lahore High Court was informed on Monday that the permission from the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) was not required under law for levying additional tax on incoming international calls to the country.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing the petition challenging additional tax on incoming calls to Pakistan imposed by the government.
A Lahore-based telecommunication company challenged the additional tax on incoming calls. A deputy attorney general, Nasim Kashmiri, appeared before the court on behalf of the federal government, the Ministry of Information and Technology (MoIT), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the PTCL and submitted a reply.
Kashmiri said the fixation of calls rate was the prerogative of the PTA and it had increased the rate in accordance with law. The government was not bound to take permission from the CCP regarding levying additional tax on the calls because the commission could interfere into matters which took place inside the country but, in the instant case, the tax on incoming calls was not relieved in Pakistan. He requested the court to dismiss the petition.
Opposing the government’s reply, the counsel for the petitioner Barrister Umar said the imposition of tax on incoming calls was a clear violation of the CCP rules.
He argued that the Ministry of MoIT had issued a policy directive asking the PTA to immediately execute an agreement, International Clearing House (ICH), with 14 LDIs. The PTA acted upon the ‘instructions’ and established ICH for LDI operators with effect from October 01. The counsel contended that, due to the revisal of international call termination charges, the overseas Pakistanis were paying three to four times average more to call back home as foreign telecom operators had geared up the rates.
He pointed out the CCP had also issued dissent note to the (MoIT) and PTA, to withdraw its decision to establish an international clearing house exchange. The decision was also not tenable in terms of Competition Act 2010.