If cable is to continue, PEMRA must end 'tyrannical' tax immediately, appeals APCOA

Chairman Khalid Arain laments the tyrannical taxes being used to squeeze poor cable operators for every penny.


Web Desk January 02, 2014
APCOA Chairman Khalid Arain speaking at the press conference in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS/IRFAN ALI

KARACHI: The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association (APCOA) Chairman Khalid Arain on Thursday plunged headfirst into a long tirade against PEMRA and the new 'Advance Tax' imposed on the country's cable operators, demanding that interim chairman Rao Tehseen abolish it immediately, Express News reported.

In a a press conference in Karachi on Thursday, the APCOA chairman requested the Prime Minister, Minister of Information and all relavent authorities to take note of taxation against cable operators in Pakistan.


"If this tyrannical tax is not abolished immediately, then cable operators in Pakistan will find it impossible to continue their service."

Arain began by pointing out that cable operators in the country had always worked sincerely to provide the entertainment service, and had a crucial role to play in helping push the electronics industry to Rs32 billion.

"I beg television channels to try and understand how important cable operators are to the industry. The electronics industry has reached a staggering Rs32 billion today, but the people who helped it grow to such proportions are being burdened by merciless new taxes."

One by one, Arain outlined every one of the taxes the government had burdened the operators with.

Advance Tax

On the subject of the 'Advance Tax', Arain said:

"This tax, announced in last year's budget, was imposed on both cable operators as well as television channels. The television channels were later exempted from it, but the tax remained in place for cable operators."

The chairman went on to lament tax collection.

"As if that weren't enough, look what they did next: the responsibility for collecting this tax was placed with Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Media Authority (PEMRA)."

Arain said it wasn't PEMRA's job to busy itself with collecting taxes.

"We demand, firstly, that this unfair tax be removed. And secondly, that PEMRA should not be collecting the tax because it is merely a regulatory body and not some money-making organisation."

"From what we know," he said, reading from the APCOA press release, "PEMRA was made to regulate cable operators, television channels and FM radio. But it has been transformed from a regulatory body to a 'tax-and-penalty-collecting' or 'money-making' authority."

Reading on, the chairman said the association and all cable operators acknowledged PEMRA's authority and had always abided by its rules.

He then requested the new interim PEMRA chief Rao Tehseen to look into the matter and effect an immediate cancellation of this tax.

"I request the interim chairman Rao Tehseen to review the situation and immediately withdraw the notification letters for Advance Tax, and ensure that no provincial PEMRA authority forces the cable operators in its area to pay this tax."

Khalid Arain thanked electronic media and journalists for supporting cable operators in difficult times, asking them for help once again in putting their message across.

Who, really, is heading PEMRA?

The call for an end to 'cruel and unjust' taxes which PEMRA was collecting, comes in the backdrop of the PEMRA chairman fiasco.

Interestingly, Khalid Arain kept treating Rao Tehseen as the current PEMRA chairman even as the latest development on the front is that Tehseen has been deposed by Islamabad High Court and Chaudhry Rashid Ahmad restored as PEMRA chief.

Clearly, the APCOA head was trying to catch Rao Tehseen's eye in the hope that he would rid cable operators of the cumbersome taxes which were in place during the previous chairman Chaudhry Rashid Ahmad's stay.

It is worth mentioning that PEMRA workers are currently threatening to go on strike against the reinstatement of Rashid Ahmad, who has been accused of various cases of malpractice and harassment.

'Unfair fees'

Arain went on to outline the various payments cable operators were expected to pay.

"Let me tell you of the 'unfair' fees which PEMRA has been collecting from cable operators:

1. The cable licence fees,

2. In-house city channels' fees,

3. Rs12 per customer fees,

4. And imagine the height of cruelty in the fact that PEMRA is also collecting a 5% grass revenue. No other organization in Pakistan pays this tax, but cable operators have been forced to pay it for many years."

Chairman APCOA went on to lament the injustice in the 25% penalty inflicted on a cable operator if he did not turn up with his licence fees in time.

"After 30 days, the penalty increases to 50% and after 60 days, to 100%. One is hard-pressed to find such relentless policies elsewhere in the world.

"We demand the interim PEMRA chief to revise the surcharge amount."

Arain said a small penalty was understandable, but figures like 25% and 50% were simply too cruel.

Towards the end of the press conference, he brought up the issue of 'DTH', a new tax Arain claimed the authorities were planning to enforce on cable providers.

COMMENTS (5)

Dajjal | 10 years ago | Reply

The Govt's Response should be. "SHUT UP and pay your Damn Taxes!!"

RUKHSAR | 10 years ago | Reply

Rude behavior of the Cable Operator's staff, i cut my connection since June 2013. I Fade up with monopoly of Cable Operator in Malir.

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