The head of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has supported calls for the recently announced usage tax on internet services in Punjab province to be dropped.

The Express Tribune quoted PTA chairman Ismail Shah as saying: “The recent imposition of taxes on data services is not good for the growth of the telecom sector, which could impede the penetration of mobile broadband.”

Shah said he is working with the Ministry of IT and Telecom to convince the Punjab government to consider other indirect ways to raise tax revenues. He supported the president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association in his call for the need to reduce the tax burden on fast-growing, high-potential sectors like telecoms and ICT, “to give them the freedom to grow faster”, the Tribune reported.

More than 100 Pakistani bloggers and internet firms blacked out their websites to protest the new tax. The government of Punjab recently said it would impose a 19.5 per cent tax on all internet services (via 3G, 4G, DSL and fibre) with a speed of 2Mb/s or higher or a monthly bill of PKR1,500 ($14.50) or more.