Mobile phone operators have urged the government to reconsider its new duty policy for the telecom sector proposed in the budget for 2019-20 fiscal year, stating that it goes against the government’s Digital Bangladesh initiative.
The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) came up with the call at a post-budget press briefing at a city hotel on Tuesday.
In the proposed budget, supplementary duty on talktime and data use has been increased from 5 percent to 10 percent, SIM tax raised from Tk100 to Tk200, and 15 percent tax imposed on retained earnings for listed companies.
In addition, the minimum tax for mobile companies has been hiked from 0.75 percent to 2 percent of turnover and import duty on smartphones has been increased from 10 percent to 25 percent, they said.
Rise in supplementary duty and taxes will halt the entire process of the 4G network expansion and the 5G network rollout, said the AMTOB leaders.
“We are utterly disappointed to note that the proposed national budget has undermined the significant contribution made by the telecom industry in implementing the vision of Digital Bangladesh,” they added.
The new tax policy would burden the existing and new customers with additional costs, they observed.
The raising of the SIM tax from Tk100 to Tk200 would double the burden on new connections and SIM replacement.
“The mobile industry is contributing more than 6.2 percent to the GDP but there is no reflection of this in the proposed budget,” said AMTOB Secretary General Brig Gen (retd) SM Farhad.
The industry is in the process of connecting the underprivileged segment of the society to Digital Bangladesh, so slapping additional supplementary duty and doubling the SIM tax will only stall the progress in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, he added.
The industry had urged the National Board of Revenue to eliminate the existing 5 percent supplementary duty on mobile services and SIM Tax.
But there is no reflection of the demand in the proposed budget, said Robi’s Managing Director Mahtab Uddin Ahmed.