Charging 10pc tax on cell phone users illegal: Senate panel
Based on a presidential decree, also endorsed by the Cabinet when the parliament was on the summer recess, the government imposed a 10 percent tax on mobile phone users.
But when the lower house returned from the break, the lawmakers rejected the levy on October 14, with the financial and budgetary commission calling the action against Article 79 of the Constitution.
Article 79 says: “During parliament recess, the government shall, in case of an immediate need, issue legislative decrees except in matters related to budget and financial affairs. Legislative decrees, after endorsement by the president, shall acquire the parliament approval.”
The article adds the legislative decrees shall be presented to parliament within 30 days of convening of its first session. If rejected by the parliament, they become void.
But the Ministry of Finance said the 10 percent tax was still regal despite the rejection of the presidential decree because the tax had been included in the new fiscal year draft budget which was approved by lawmakers.
Senate telecommunications commission head Eng. Javed Rauf told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview that the tax had no legal status after the rejection of the presidential decree and it should be stopped.
He denied if the levy had been included in the 2015 budget, saying a law should have been drafted in line with the Article 42 of the Constitution before charging the tax. He said both charging the tax and issuing the presidential decree in this regard were against the law.
The Article 42 states “every Afghan shall pay taxes and duties to the state in accordance with the provisions of the law. No taxes or duties shall be levied without legal representation.
It adds “tax rates and duties as well as the method of payment shall be determined, with due respect to social justice, by law. This provision shall also apply to foreign individuals and organizations. Every kind of tax, duty as well as paid incomes shall be deposited to a single state account.
Rauf said the government’s move to charge the tax showed it had no respect for the Constitution. “The 10 percent tax collection should be stopped as soon as possible because the decree has been rejected and the levy has been not legally explained,” the lawmaker said.
He said he was not against taxes, but everything should be under the ambit of law.
The Wolesi Jirga has recently rejected five presidential legislative decrees, including the one imposing the 10 percent telecom tax.
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