#IWantToPayTax: Why Afghans are protesting against their parliament’s decision to scrap telecom tax

Last month, Afghanistan’s telecom companies imposed a 10% tax on Afghan networks users.

Although it was never clarified, the tax was seen as an effort by the government to attain self-reliance. Other unconfirmed reports stated that the amount collected from the tax was meant to boost the defence treasury. Considering the degree of mobile phone penetration in Afghanistan, over 23 million subscribers, this definitely seemed like a sound financial move on behalf of the government. And within two weeks of its imposition, more than 160 million Afghanis (in dollars) were reportedly collected.

However, on Wednesday, the upper house of the Afghan parliament—Wolesi Jirga—rejected the presidential decree allowing this tax. Afghan MPs voted down the decree stating that it was unconstitutional, and that there were financial limitations to decrees passed by the president.

One might presume that the deposition of the tax might come as a relief to the many telecom users. On the contrary, Afghans unsatisfied with the parliaments decision took to social media platforms with the hashtag #IWantToPayTax!

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