KABUL (Pajhwok): The government has collected 170 million afghanis extra money from mobile phone users under telecommunication revenue on mobile credit cards in nearly four years, Pajhwok Afghan News has learned from experts’ opinions.
Ten percent tax on mobile phone credit cards was imposed in Afghanistan in October 2015. Article six of the telecommunication law on credit card tax says that revenue from credit card is 10 percent.
Telecommunication services have been defined in article three of this law: “Telecommunications Services is a service provided to subscribers in form of text, images, sound and other forms by wire, radio frequency, or optical energy provided by the operator (telecommunications service provider), including fixed telephone services, telephone services Mobile (Mobile) Domestic Roaming Services, International Overseas Roaming Services and Rental Agencies.”
Every individual will automatically pay ten percent (ten afghanis) as a “telecommunications tariff” when he/she adds 100 afghanis credit to his/her SIM card.
But Suhrab Wardak, Chief auditor of the High Audit Office, said every consumer actually availed 90 afghanis from a 100 afghanis credit card and paid nine afghanis as credit card tax because article six of law has limited the amount to ten percent.
He said the telecommunication tax should be withdrawn from 90 afghanis as the government charged 10 afghanis in violation to the above mentioned law.
Qudratullah Hasrat, a legal affairs expert, said consumers should be charged against the amount of services the company offered.
“Currently when we add a 100 afghanis credit card, 10 afghanis are deducted in tax, which should be withdrawn,” he said.
He urged every consumer should be charged 10 percent tax from 90 afghanis because this what the consumer actually gets from the company.
Telecommunications revenue for current year is yet to be announced because one month remains in the current fiscal year, but according to information from the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MCIT), the revenue from 10 percent tax on mobile credit cards during the first two months of 2015 was over 802 million afghanis, in 2016 more than 4.2 million afghanis, in 2017 over 4.2 million afghanis and last year over 4.6 million afghanis. The total past four years revenue is 14 billion afghanis.
But according to fresh information from the MoCIT, revenue from telecommunication services in the first three quarters of current year reached 17.3 billion afghanis and the amount collected extra is around 170 million afghanis.
In line with the article four of the telecommunication revenue law, the Afghanistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (ATRA) and the Ministry of Finance are the sources of implementation of this law.
Sher Shah Nawabi, media advisor to MoCIT, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “This a small issue but with a huge impact, I may not be able to answer currently. I will share it with the legal team of the ministry and then answer.”
But today he responded: “The formula to withdraw the ten percent tax on mobile credit card has been prepared and implemented by ATRA. The MoCIT is responsible when it comes to monitoring the ten percent tax and for more information regarding this formula, you can refer to the Ministry of Finance.”
Finance Ministry Spokesperson Shamroz Khan Masjidi said the 10 percent tax was automatically deducted from the 100 afghanis card when added to the consumer account.
Masjidi said their take from the telecommunication tax law was this, but they have no authority to interpret the law and the Supreme Court has the authority to further elaborate the law.
Pajhwok Afghan News tried to reach out to the Apex Court on this issue but no contact was established.
Obaidullah Kalimzai Wardak, a member of the Wolesi Jirga Commission on Telecommunication and Transportation, said there was a contradiction in the telecommunication tax law and discussion in this regard was underway in the Commission.
After imposition of the 10 percent tax on mobile credit cards, the lawmaker said the process had not been transparent and demanded creation of a transparent system.
The MoCIT also pledged to create Real Data Management system to remove concerns regarding transparency of the 10 percent tax.
But the ministry recently announced that only Salam Telecommunication Company was connected to the system and the remaining companies would be connected to the system in future.