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19.5% GST on using internet...
Punjab government – through an SRO – imposed this week a whopping 19.5% tax on all kinds of internet usage for those with Rs. 1,500 or above monthly bills or 2Mbps and above broadband speeds.

Just like food, education and medicine, internet has also grown into our needs. And for the likes of us, the software houses, the IT support centers, the BPOs, this DSL, 3G, 4G, EVDO, fiber are more than that.  They are our only means to operate, communicate and provide services to clients locally and internationally. In last 10 years, we are the only industry continuously trying to stand on front feet and show the world what we are made of. Collectively as an industry, today we are the best known for our IT innovation, creativity and strategy. We have world’s best software houses, call centers and BPOs built around the best brains of the world, and silver lining here is that the world shows respect to us. USA, UK, Canada, Australia and the entire Middle East that used to take their business to India or Bangladesh, now prefer doing business with us – with we Pakistanis.

At this time when we are in the right position to make the difference, it was the last thing we were expecting from the government.

Facilitate first. Tax later.

Compared to our technical experise, our internet industry is lagging behind by miles. In a world where countries can average 20MBPs speed, we average only 3-4 MBps. Worse yet, broadband hasn’t reached to people fully yet. 3G and 4G got introduced just last year. Whose job is this to see these things through and try to be more facilitating? Tell us if it’s anyone other than government.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s try to make some sense. Government facts and statistics gurus claim that this 19.5% GST is likely to bring them around 3 billion from the sector. The experts on the other hand, say that corresponding negative growth on internet uptake would cause national economy an estimated loss of 100 to 200 billion in next 5 years. We are no economists but we can see that how it hits us and hits us hard.

We have seen the government taking initiatives to digitize the system. We have seen the government distributing laptops to students. We have seen the government introducing 3G and 4G in Pakistan. Now what’s gone into their minds, clueless!

If the government wants us to prosper as an industry, if the government wants us to stay at the sharpest end of the digital, if the government wants us bring in more global investors to our country and ultimately generate more employment opportunities countrywide, then government should be more considerate towards us and try to understand our needs, facilitate us and empower us. We are already competing the biggest fishes.

On a lighter note, True, this government has given us air-conditioned METRO BUSES with 24/7 FREE wi-fi. Perhaps they want us to shift our offices in these METRO buses where our guys would sit and work. Not to mention, travelling alongside the city just for 20. We fancy. We salute. And We Say NO.

  • We Are Red Signal - And We Say No To Internet Tax
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