The telecom regulator in a report submitted to the High Court revealed the stunning figure
Three mobile operators - Grameen Phone, Banglalink and Robi –paid over Tk8,744 crore to Google and Facebook on advertising their products on these platforms, revealed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Thursday.
The telecom regulator in a report submitted to the High Court revealed the stunning figure.
The report was submitted at the joint high court bench of Justices Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Md Ashraful Kamal.
The report on behalf of BTRC was submitted by a lawyer AKM Alamgir Parvez Bhuiyan. The government was represented by deputy attorney general Tushar Kanti Roy.
Barriester Humayun Kabir Pallab, one of the writ petitioners, said Banglalink paid their money to the digital agencies concerned for the period from 2011 to June, 2018.
Grameen Phone made the payment for the period from 2011 to July, 2018, and Robi for 2017 and 2018.
Banglalink paid Google, Facebook and Yahoo, while Robi paid Imo, google and Facebook. GP paid google and facebook, Pallab elaborated.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) also submitted a report on the same issue, but the high court expressed dissatisfaction over it and asked for resubmission by October 19.
The NBR last month issued a directive saying social media including Facebook and Youtube, and foreign satellite television channels having no offices in the country must pay value added tax (VAT) at 15% rate from the current fiscal year.
The social media companies and foreign channels will pay VAT on their earnings from Bangladesh.
To ensure the VAT collection, the NBR asked the entities to get the VAT registration immediately to comply with the law.
The Court has also asked the revenue board to elaborate the steps taken by them in collecting revenue from the same digital outlets.
On April 18, last year, the High Court had ordered for an investigation into all net-based agencies, including Facebook to probe into their possible tax evasion.
At the same time, orders were also given to collect revenue from adverts on net platforms, sales of domains and licence fees. Court also issued a ruling, asking why an order would not be given to collect necessary revenue from Internet-based companies.
The defendants were asked to respond to the ruling within four weeks. A writ was lodged on Apr 9, 2018 against tax evasion of Facebook and all Internet-based agencies.
The writ asked to bring all net-based institutes under the tax net.
The writ was lodged by six supreme-court lawyers: Barristers Mohammad Humayun Kabir, Mohammad Kausar, Mohammad Sajjadul Islam, Mohammad Majedul Kader and Advocate Apurba Kumar Biswas.
The writ mentions secretaries of finance, law, information and technology, editor of Prothom Alo, chairman of NBR, authorities of Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Youtube and Bangladesh Bank governor as defendants.