The Punjab government has withdrawn controversial plans to impose a 19.5% tax on internet services, local news portal Dawn writes. The plan, which had been put forward in late May, was widely criticised, with ‘hundreds of websites’ taking action by blacking out their home pages and displaying the message ‘Don’t tax the internet’ in protest against the measure. The move was also rejected by telecoms watchdog the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), with chairman Ismail Shah quoted as saying: ‘The recent imposition of taxes on data services is not good for the growth of the telecom sector, which could impede the penetration of mobile broadband.’ Indeed, the nation’s cellcos noted in a statement that whilst the government would collect an estimated PKR3 billion (USD29.5 million) from the levy in the first year, the ‘corresponding negative growth on internet uptake due to these taxes will cause the national economy an estimated loss of up to PKR200 billion in five years.’
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