Mobile phone operators in Bangladesh have urged the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to withdraw value-added tax (VAT) on mobile internet services in the national budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (Amtob) made the request during a pre-budget meeting with the revenue authorities at the NBR headquarters in Dhaka on Tuesdayy.
They also placed their budget proposals at the meeting, which was chaired by NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman. NBR members Jahangir Hossain (VAT Policy) and Parvez Iqbal (Income Tax Policy) were also present. Currently, it is mandatory for subscribers to pay 15% VAT on their internet usage.
“If the VAT is withdrawn, it will significantly boost the number of internet subscribers in the country, subsequently contributing to Bangladesh’s economy,” said Amtob General Secretary TIM Nurul Kabir.
As of February 2017, the number of active internet subscribers nationwide stands at 67.2 million, of whom 63.1 million use mobile internet subscribers, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The Amtob representatives also urged the government to withdraw the Tk100 tax and replacement fees on SIM cards.
“The SIM tax should be removed to ensure better affordability,” Kabir said. “Records show that reduction of SIM tax has resulted in market growth”.
The mobile operators also demanded the removal of the 1% surcharge on mobile usage and to bring the corporate tax down to 35% from the existing 45%.
“We want a comprehensive tax policy review regarding the telecommunication sector,” said Robi Managing Director and CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed. “The NBR has to sit with the BTRC to formulate these policies.”
Tax reforms will enable the growth of the country’s mobile phone industry which will accelerate the development of Digital Bangladesh, he added.
Earlier at another meeting on Tuesday, the Bangladesh Sweets Manufacturers Association demanded that the 15% VAT on their products be reduced to 6% under the new VAT law, which is due to be implemented from July 1.
Bangladesh CNG Filling Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association, meanwhile, sought removal of the 0.6% income tax on their annual turnover.