Budget 2019-20: Govt expects $1 billion from telecom licenses of Jazz, Telenor and Zong

The federal government of Pakistan in its Budget 2019-20 has revealed its hopes of collecting over $1 billion in revenue by granting the telecom licenses to three major telcos in the country; Jazz, Telenor, and Zong.

Previously, the government after much protest from the telecom companies, a mere two weeks before the expiration of Jazz and Telenor’s telecom license, came into action to proceed with their license renewal request and announced that Jazz and Telenor will have to pay $450 million each and Zong $470 million to renew their license.

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Jazz and Telenor have already approached the Islamabad High Court to contest the figures proposed by the Pakistani government. They are arguing that the country’s telecom policy long with several clauses of the telecom license requires that the first renewal should be done at the same price in which it was acquired in the first place.

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Recently, the GSM Association, a trade body which represents the interests of mobile network operators across the globe, also showed concern over the high telecom license renewal fees fixed by the federal government and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA).

The industry body has called the fees “unreasonable” and has warned that “high fees proposed for renewing these licenses will slow the development of Pakistan’s digital economy and seriously affect operators’ ability to invest and support affordable services.” PTA later fired back at GSMA and accused it of attempting to influence court proceedings.

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The government seemingly eyes digitization in Pakistan with increased Rs. 7.341 billion budget allocation to IT and telecom division for FY 2019-20 and abolishment of additional 3% tax on the mobile phone imports but will it be able to earn revenue from the renewal of telecom licenses, only time and the court will tell.

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