Mobile phone users will have to pay 1 percent surcharge on the price of handsets from the next fiscal year, as per the finance bill passed in parliament yesterday.
Dubbed the surcharge for information and communication technology development, it will be imposed on the price of both imported and locally-manufactured handsets and the amount collected will be spent entirely on education and health.
The surcharge was not present in the proposed finance bill, which also called for a 10 percent duty on handset imports and advance income tax of 3 percent.
In the version passed in parliament, the handset import duty was reduced to 5 percent and the advance income tax feature withdrawn altogether, along with a host of amendments.
Among the amendments was the reduction in advance income tax from the profit made from selling buildings or flats from Tk 90 per square feet to Tk 55.76.
The tax holiday facility for owners of rice bran oil industries and cinema halls outside of Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations has been extended from seven years to 10 years. The tax holiday privilege will remain open until June 30, 2019, meaning anyone setting up a rice bran oil factory or a cinema hall outside the country's two biggest cities within this timeframe can seek tax holiday for the next 10 years.
Supplementary duties on toothpastes, soaps, detergents, razors, stainless steel have been raised to 20 percent from the proposed 15 percent, while that on float glass and cosmetics have been kept at the existing 45 percent against the pitch to bring it down to 30 percent.
The import duty on hybrid cars of lower engine capacity has been reduced, too. In the proposed budget, a flat 60 percent supplementary duty advocated; but now, it would be 45 percent for cars up to 1,800CC and 60 percent for cars between 1,801CC and 2,500CC.
To keep the market price of LPG cylinders static, import duty has been cut to 10 percent from 25 percent.
In his concluding speech, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the Padma bridge project will be implemented timely and that there would not be fund problems.
He said the government will try to divert the foreign aid that was originally committed for the Padma bridge project to other sectors.
Muhith said there is an overwhelming demand for gas connections but it cannot be met as the supply of gas is very limited. To address the problem, the government has taken initiative to import LNG, to be supplied in cylinders.
About the law and order situation, the minister said, political stability is required for the situation to improve and all politicians have big responsibilities.
“In this case, we will have to take an initiative to end all political divisions.”