Telcos to block SIMs in small batches

FBR communicates first batch of 5,000 non-filers to cellular firms

Irshad Ansari May 10, 2024

The telecom operators after several deliberations with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have agreed to initiate the manual blocking process of the SIMs of non-filers in small batches until their systems were fully equipped to automate it, read a statement issued on Friday.

It stated that the FBR was engaged in a series of meetings with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom operators across the country to address the enforcement of measures to disable the mobile phone SIMs of 506,671 individuals, who did not file their returns for the tax year 2023 under its Income Tax General Order (ITGO).

It added that the first batch comprising 5,000 non-filers had been communicated to the telecom operators on Friday for “compliance regarding SIM blockage”.

Read more: Telecos agree to block SIMs of non-filers

The FBR has summoned the representatives of the telecom companies on Saturday (today) for the compliance report related to the blocking of these SIMs.

Two more batches of 5,000 non-filer each will be sent to the telecom companies on Saturday and Sunday.

“Subsequent batches will be sent to them on a daily basis. Moreover, telecom operators have also commenced sending messages to [the] non-filers regarding blocking of SIMs for intimation purpose.”

The statement read that this collaboration underscored the commitment of the FBR and telecom operators to uphold tax regulations and ensure compliance among taxpayers.

“It also signifies a significant step towards enhancing tax collection and enforcement mechanisms in the country.”

Also read: Telecoms protest SIMs blocking

In a related development, the government has given the nod to the FBR to proceed with ‘Plan B’ against the non-filers, under which additional withholding tax would be imposed on them.

Besides, under this plan, legal action will be taken against the telecom companies that do not comply with the order for blocking the mobile SIMs of the individuals, who have not filed their income returns for the year 2023.

According to FBR sources, action will be taken against the non-filers after May 15.

Apart from this, the imposition of an additional tax of 2.5% is also being considered on the SIMs of the non-filers.

The sources said an additional tax was being mulled for every time a non-filer recharged their SIM balance as well as when they used their calling and mobile data plans.

They added that the information about the SIMs of non-filers that needed to be blocked had been handed over to the PTA.

If the SIMs of non-filers are not blocked by May 15, the FBR will consider taking legal action against the relevant telecom companies.

The sources added that the FBR would hold discussion in this connection and move the court against the telecom companies defying the ITGO.

Despite the FBR issuing the IGTO, the telecom companies resisted the move by penning a letter to the IT ministry and PTA in which they wrote that they were mandated to provide uninterrupted services to their customers, except in circumstances specified in the Telecom Act and relevant regulations.

They added that there were no instances where they could disconnect or block service to any customer.

However, they appear to have changed their mind following the meetings with the FBR.


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