National Budget for FY 2019-20: Mobile phone calls may get costlier
12:00 AM, June 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:30 AM, June 14, 2019

Mobile phone calls may get costlier

Supplementary duty doubled

Mobile phone services are likely to become costlier from today due to increased taxes.

The National Board of Revenue sent a regulatory order to the mobile carries to increase the supplementary duty (SD) to 10 percent from 5 from midnight yesterday.

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The order came soon after the finance minister’s proposal in the budget.

The tax-hike would affect the users of about 16 crore active SIMs.

Apart from 10 percent SD, subscribers now pay 15 percent VAT and 1 percent surcharge on call and SMS charges. For data usage, the VAT is 7.5 percent.

For calls and messages, a subscriber would be able to use about Tk 78.27 for every Tk 100 refill under the new tax structure. The rest would go to the government exchequer.

Taxes on new SIM and SIM replacement are also increased to Tk 200 from Tk 100.

However, the cost of broadband internet would remain unchanged.

The government has been increasing the taxes on cellular services for the last few years.

Experts and industry insiders have been saying that the move doesn’t reflect the government’s commitment to digitalisation.

TIM Nurul Kabir, independent telecommunication expert, said the cellular phone services were becoming too expensive for the common people.

“We urge the government to sit with the investors and try to understand the situation. The services are going to be unaffordable,” said the former secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.

Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer at the Banglalink, said, “In order to accelerate the digital movement in the country, it is necessary to make sure that people are provided with cost-effective digital services.”

The finance minister also proposed raising the minimum tax for mobile carriers to 2 percent of their turnover from 0.75 percent.

Taimur said such a move would discourage shareholders of the companies, which are not profitable, from making further investments.

“We strongly urge the government to reconsider this and ensure the fulfilment of the dream of a true digital Bangladesh.”

In 2015-16, the government introduced 3 percent supplementary duty on mobile services.

The next year, 1 percent surcharge and 5 percent supplementary duty were introduced.

In 2017-18, the government revised the taxes on mobile device import and increased it to 10 percent. It was increased again by 5 percent in the outgoing fiscal year.

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