Even before 24 hours of the placement of proposed budget for 2019-20 fiscal year, mobile phone operators have started charging 10 percent supplementary duty on various services through mobile phones.
Private operator Robi has informed its subscribers through SMS about the enhanced rate.
GrameenPhone (GP) and Banglalink are yet to send any such message to their subscribers although they have also made the increased rate effective from Friday, confirmed officials concerned.
In the proposed budget, the supplementary duty has been doubled from the existing 5 percent.
Currently, mobile phone users, in addition to the duty, have to pay 10 percent VAT and 1 percent surcharge.
With this new addition, subscribers will have to pay 27.77 percent in taxes on services provided through mobile phones, meaning that a subscriber will have to spend over Tk127 to avail services worth Tk100.
GP’s Head of Communication Sayed Talat Kamal told The Business Standard, “The government has started imposing supplementary duty from the day of budget placement. So, the enhanced duty will be effective from today [Friday].”
Mobile phone operators and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) sources said such taxes come into effect immediately after the proposal is made in the budget.
Nirjhor, a Robi subscriber, acknowledged he got an SMS on hiked duty from his operator on Friday morning.
“I am worried as I will have to pay additional charges on already increased phone call rates. This will make a dent in general users’ pockets,” he said, adding that he was yet to be sure about how much extra money he would have to pay.
At present, about 13 crore subscribers in the country use services from four mobile companies, with GP leading the market with 7.5 crore subscribers followed by Robi (4 crore), Banglalink (3.5 crore) and state-owned Teletalk (40 lakh).
Of the total subscribers, about 9 crore use mobile data.
In 2018, GP, Robi and Banglalink generated revenues close to Tk25,000 crore, more than half of which was shared by GP.
Of this total revenue, around one-fifth comes from data use in mobile phones.
According to GSMA Intelligence, the number of mobile internet subscribers in Bangladesh – presently 35 million out of total 85 million users – will become 73 million in 2025.
Similarly, the number of total mobile phone users will go past 10 crore by 2025.