Telecom sector stakeholders have expressed their resentment over the tax burden on the sector.
They requested for reviewing the tax structure for the telecom sector in the upcoming budget at a webinar, jointly organised by AMTOB and Daffodil International University (DIU) on Sunday evening.“The consumer tax in the mobile sector in Bangladesh is higher than all other sectors,” Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, AMTOB president and chief executive officer (CEO) of mobile operator Robi Axiata said
“If a customer spends Tk 100 on a mobile service, Tk 53 goes to various types of taxes and Tk 20 is spent to avail various services from other licensees in the sector,” he added.
He further said corporate tax is as high as 45 percent and even if the mobile operator has no business profit, still it has to pay two percent turnover tax.
The tax structure needs to be reformed and unified licensing system needs to put in place so that mobile operators can provide more types of services, he said.
Addressing the event as the chief guest, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder called for coordination among stakeholders.
Coordination is necessary among the stakeholders, including BTRC, mobile network operators, transmission network operators, tower companies etc, to improve the situation, according to him.“It is possible to solve the problems of the telecommunications sector through continuous dialogue and mutual respect,” he said.
A lot of work has been done for the telecom sector, but there is still a lot to be done, he added.
BTRC Chairman claimed that data price has dropped drastically in the last decade.
Dr Md Sabur Khan, Chairman, Board of Trustees, DIU, who was the guest of honour at the discussion titled “Mobile Communication in Bangladesh: Challenges of the Future”, said that the importance of mobile and internet was felt during the Coronavirus situation.
“We are in such a situation when we cannot do almost anything without mobile and the internet,” he remarked.
He emphasised on coordination between industry and educational institutions. “We have a lot of talented graduates, but due to a lack of coordination between these two sectors, we cannot utilise them properly. They have the potential to revolutionise the technology sector,” he said.
Md. Kamruzzaman, Additional Secretary of the Posts and Telecommunications Division, said, it is possible to solve the problems of the telecom sector by coordination among the relevant government departments, the telecom and tax regulatory bodies.
He suggested that before the national budget proposal, all the telecom sectors stakeholders, including BTRC can discuss and make recommendations to place to NBR.
Ericsson Bangladesh Country Manager Abdus Salam said that every year new tax is imposed on the telecommunications sector.
He added, complex licensing system has created a complex ecosystem that is affecting the quality of service.
Prof AKM Fazlul Haque, associate dean, Faculty of Engineering, DIU, said that due to the availability of mobile internet there was no hindrance to providing education during the COVID-19 situation.
“The university is now managing the education system using various tools of artificial intelligence,” he noted.
AMTOB Secretary General Brig Gen SM Farhad (Retd) moderated the panel discussion. The webinar was hosted by Taslim Arefin, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering, DIU.