Incoming international calls: Stay against tax extended
LAHORE, Nov 5: The Lahore High Court on Monday extended its stay order on the recovery of an additional tax levied by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on incoming international telephone calls as arguments of federal government’s counsel were in progress.
Representing the federal government, a law officer stated before the court that the PTA was empowered to fix minimum rate of phone calls and it legally increased the tariff on the incoming international calls.
Opposing an argument of the petitioner that the PTA had not sought permission from the Competition Commission of Pakistan before increasing the tariff, the counsel argued that the jurisdiction of the CCP was within the country and the additional tax in question was to be recovered from those making calls from abroad. The counsel maintained that the PTA had not violated the Competition Commission Act 2010 and requested the court to dismiss the petition.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan adjourned further hearing till Nov 14 and directed the counsels of both sides to come up with final arguments. The judge also extended the stay against the recovery of the additional tax.
The petitioner is a private company, Brain Telecommunication, which says the additional tax on incoming international calls is a violation of the rules prescribed in section 4 of the Competition Commission Act which prohibits price fixing and division of market through quotas. It says the CCP is mandated to provide free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity to enhance economic efficiency and to protect consumers from anti-competitive behaviour.
The petitioner said the commission had also objected to levy of the additional tax but the PTA ignored the reservations.
It said overseas Pakistanis had been facing immense difficulty and financial loss due to the ‘illegal’ additional tax. He pointed out that after the levy of the tax since Oct 1, 2012, Pakistanis living abroad had been paying four times extra charges on a phone call made to Pakistan.