Jazz, the largest mobile operator in Pakistan, took a hit on revenue growth in Q4 2019, as it felt the brunt of a new tax regime requiring it to refund service and maintenance charges to customers.

Service revenue increased 1.5 per cent year-on-year to PKR46.9 billion ($304 million), with data growing 26.6 per cent and accounting for 32.2 per cent of the figure, versus 25.7 per cent in Q4 2018.

Excluding the impact of a tax change ordered by the Supreme Court and supported by the regulator in September 2019, service revenue growth would have been 14.1 per cent, the company said.

Parent Veon doesn’t disclose net profit for its operations, however the Pakistan unit’s reported EBITDA rose 7.1 per cent to PKR14.9 billion.

In a statement, Jazz said it continued to perform well despite the ongoing competitive nature of the local market and “remained focused on expanding its digital services to drive further growth”.

Financial services revenue grew 24.6 per cent, as JazzCash’s monthly active users increased to 7.3 million.

Its mobile customer base increased 7.6 per cent to 60.5 million, with 4G penetration reaching 40 per cent.

ARPU dipped 1.9 per cent to PKR260. Average monthly data usage jumped 84 per cent to 2.5GB.

Full year capex, excluding spectrum licences, was up 37.1 per cent to PKR10.9 billion. Population coverage of its data network increased to more than 60 per cent.