Pakistan’s telecoms industry suffered a dismal year, as not only did mobile revenue drop 1.8 per cent, but direct foreign investment (DFI) plunged 72 per cent and the sector’s tax contributions fell almost 50 per cent from last year.
For the fiscal year ending 30 June, mobile operators’ revenue fell to PKR317 billion ($3.03 billion) from PKR323 billion the previous year, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Total DFI in the sector was down 72 per cent to just $121 million in FY15. And the industry’s total contribution in taxes dropped to PKR126 billion compared with PKR243 billion the previous year, the Express Tribune reported.
Adding to the pain, the country’s recent biometric verification drive led to an 18 per cent drop in mobile subscribers. Operators’ user base fell to 114.7 million in FY2015 compared with a peak of almost 140 million a year earlier, according to PTA figures.
Pakistan’s third largest operator PTCL last week reported a large loss in Q3, which it attributed to its higher investment in its 3G network and the deteriorating business environment after the government raised taxes.
The federal government this year doubled the sales tax on various categories of imported mobile handsets in June to PKR300-1,000 ($3-$10), and the government in Punjab introduced a 19.5 per cent sales tax on internet usage in early June.