Only hours after announcing its decision to tax calls made over the internet, Lebanon has reversed the ruling to calm street protests which rocked the country.
At a session of the Lebanese cabinet, a bill was passed yesterday which would have imposed fees for using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to make calls, including through popular apps WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook and FaceTime. A charge of 20 cents per day per subscriber would have been levied, equal to $6 per month.
Authorities had said that if the funds were collected from the three million subscribers, $216 million would be raised by the treasury each year.
Local media revealed that revenues of the telecommunications sector in Lebanon fell by about 33 per cent between 2017 and 2018, which analysts predict is a direct result of the increasing use of free calling applications.
The announcement of the cabinet’s decision led to mass protests across the country with thousands demanding reform. The civic action forced the authorities to quickly reverse the decision.