Youngsters protest against SMS tax

Daily Times June 20th, 2009

* Passer-by says young people waste time in pointless chain messages
* Protest coordinator says text messages help students stay in touch with families in other cities

LAHORE: A number of young people, belonging to various youth organisations, on Friday protested outside the Lahore Press Club, demanding that the government withdraw the 20 percent tax on short messaging service (SMS), which was announced in the annual budget for the financial year 2009-10.

The Progressive Youth Front (PYF) organised the protest against the ‘SMS tax’. The protest provided an interesting spectacle for the passers-by, who were amazed by the youth shouting slogans against SMS being taxed.

“People here are struggling to make both ends meet, but these young people are protesting against taxation on SMS, which sounds funny,” said Abbas, a young man who was standing on the curb, and staring at the protesters with mock amazement.

Another passer-by said the tax on SMS was quite justified. He said most young people wasted their time in sending pointless chain messages.

PYF Coordinator Kashif said the youth of Pakistan lived without basic facilities, and cheap SMS was the only ‘luxury’ they could enjoy. He said it was deplorable that the youth was now being deprived of this facility.
Staying in touch: He did not deny that young people were circulating indecent and meaningless SMS. However, he insisted that the tax imposed on SMS was a great blow for the young people who stayed in contact with each other through the ‘service’.

He said the young people who left their native cities to study in urban centres stayed in touch with their families back home through SMS. He claimed the PYF had conducted a survey and found that an overwhelming majority of young people opposed the decision of the federal government.
Kashif said telecommunication companies should also raise their voice against the tax. “The government is already taxing calling cards. It should withdraw the tax on SMS,” he said. ali usman

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