The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications was held on Tuesda chaired by Senator Rubina Khalid, the meeting was attended by Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Engr. RukhsanaZuberi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi, Senator Molana Abdul GhafoorHaideri, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Faisal Javed and senior officers from the Ministry of IT (MOIT), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority(PTA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
The meeting commenced with a briefing by the Ministry of IT, PTA and Member Customs regarding streamlining the process for collection of custom duty on cell phones on arrival at airports and extension of time period to block unregistered IMEI cell phones.
Senator Fida Muhammad probed the panel regarding revenue generated by this measure. The Committee was informed that since 40% mobiles enter the country through grey channels, this measure will generate huge revenue for the country. The Committee was also informed that taxes would be charged in three slabs (less than USD 60, more than USD 60 and USD 130 and more).
Objecting to the measure Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi was of the view that international duty structure must be followed. He recommended that the Finance Minister be present in the next meeting.
Senator Faisal Javed was of the view that imposing high taxes on mobiles being brought in Pakistan from abroad was pointless unless Pakistan established its own local industry.
Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh recommended that to protect the common man from being fleeced, it was imperative that mobiles being brought for commercial use be segregated from those being brought for personal utility.
Chairperson Committee, Senator Rubina Khalid directed that the 30 day margin for registering a new mobile bought from abroad is less and must be extended to 60 days. She suggestedmakingthe DIRBS program workable so that both the government and the people of Pakistan benefit from it, it is imperative that duties be rationalised. The Committee showed displeasure at the lack of awareness of PTA regarding this issue.
While deliberating over the matter of paying increase in pensions to PTCL pensioners by Pakistan Telecommunications Employees Trust, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi was of the view that paying what the Trust owed employees in instalments seemed feasible; since paying off all liabilities in full would be impossible. Chairperson Committee, showed dismay over delay in payments and said that the country is indebted to these people for dedicating their lives to the service of the people of Pakistan. She said that it is a shame that at this critical stage in their lives when it is time for them to rest, they are forced to incessantly pursue what is rightfully theirs.