‘Pakistan enjoys cheapest mobile services despite high taxation’

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KARACHI: Pakistan secured top position regarding the affordability of mobile services despite being included in the group of top 50 high tax rate countries, leaving behind many highly developed economies.

“Advanced economies are preceded in this regard by the group of Eurasian countries, and Pakistan is the market with the lowest price points,” said the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (GITR) 2016.

Pakistan secured first position out of 139 countries in terms of affordability of mobile services by an individual. In the category of average per-minute cost of different types of mobile cellular calls or prepaid mobile cellular tariffs, Pakistan shared top position with other nine countries while fixed broadband internet tariffs are lowest in the country across the globe, as Pakistan secured 15th position out of 139 countries.

The abovementioned rankings were mainly driven by the intense competitive environment of the country’s telecom sector acknowledged in the report, as the GITR 2016 ranked Pakistan’s internet and telephony competition as best, placing the country on number one in the competition index.

However, all is not well in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector of the country as Pakistan remained below 100 in remaining each category, which is assessed in GITR 2016.

The GITR 2016 assesses the state of networked readiness of 139 economies using the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) under the theme “Innovating in the Digital Economy,” and examines the role of ICTs in driving innovation.

The report assessed how successful is the government in promoting the use of ICTs and placed Pakistan’s government on 100th position, which shows that the regime is struggling to improve the quality of government services for the population in terms of the use of ICTs.

For instance, in the category of internet access in schools, the country stood at 103rd position out of 139 countries while in terms of government’s clear implementation plan for utilising ICTs to improve the country’s overall competitiveness, Pakistan stands 99th in the category of government vision of the future.

Pakistan still has a long way to go to use internet as effective tool for selling goods and services to consumers, as according to GITR 2016, Pakistan stands at 112 out of 139 countries in the category of business-to-consumer internet use.

Internet privacy in the country is alarmingly vulnerable as Pakistan has most insecure internet servers in world. In the category of secure internet servers (per million population), Pakistan is ranked 123 out of 139 countries by the World Economic Forum’s report.

While the government has filed to assist the ICTs in the country in each and every sector, on the contrary, in the category of total tax rate including sum of profit tax, labour tax and social contributions, property taxes, turnover taxes, and other taxes, Pakistan remained on top this year as well by securing 49th position among 140 countries.

The top five in the region in terms of overall ICT readiness are still China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.