The government has hiked taxes on computers, laptops and their accessories at a time when people direly need tech gadgets to educate their children, work from home and attend conferences.
According to a notice issued by the Director General of Customs Valuation, Karachi earlier this week, a duty of $70-150 per piece has been imposed on used imported laptops while the levy on CPUs ranges from $25-60 per piece.
“It is a bad decision which will hit education, health and business sectors of the country,” remarked Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Customs Committee Head Shabbir Mansha Churra while talking to The Express Tribune.
The Customs authorities announced new valuations for old and used computer systems, laptops, printers, auxiliaries and accessories of all origins, he elaborated.
Churra added that sales of tech gadgets had soared in the past one year in the wake of Covid-19 and “short-sighted authorities have viewed it as a chance to increase their income.”
These products “are preowned, which means that they have been discarded by owners in other countries and authorities in Pakistan are taxing the discarded products”, he lamented.
The government made repeated claims about steering ease of doing business in the country, but the fresh move would affect businessmen adversely, he said.
“These days, computers and laptops are more important than ever before because they are being widely used by students for educational purposes across Pakistan,” remarked Malik Muhammad Yasin, Chairman of Techno City Chapter of Karachi Electronics Dealers Association.
CPUs, which earlier cost Rs3,000, will be available for Rs10,000 following the imposition of duty.
“Laptops, which used to start from Rs8,000-10,000, will not be available for less than Rs20,000 now,” he said.
“In such a scenario, how can a person earning Rs20,000 per month afford to buy computer for his children?”
He announced that businessmen, affected by the imposition of duty, would challenge the decision in the high court in a day or two.
Earlier on Friday, Pakistan Software Houses Association President Jehan Ara tweeted, “If you (government) really want to make this country a truly digital country, do not tax mobile phones or computers or laptops.”
She pointed out that the people who imported these devices would use them to develop more sophisticated tech products, create jobs, pay income tax and help the economy grow.