Policymakers and representatives of the telecom sector called for making the tax policy and the ecosystem business-friendly.
They suggested identifying the issues related to the sector through consultations with the stakeholders and acting accordingly.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar was present as the chief guest at the discussion.
Hasanul Haq Inu MP, Chairperson of BIGF, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Information and broadcasting, presided over the function.
Mustafa Jabbar said, "Our youngsters are now running online enterprises. This is one of the advantages of having access to the Internet.”
“However, I agree that excessive taxes have been a long-standing concern. I think we failed to convince NBR about
the negative impact of high taxes on telecoms. we need to think about digital civilisation where rational taxation needs to be addressed,” he said.
Hasanul Haq Inu stated that the levies in Bangladesh’s telecom industry are extremely high.
Reducing taxes has no negative consequences for the government because it boosts revenue indirectly.
The mobile industry’s corporate tax and minimum turnover tax should be decreased and made compatible with other industries.
Hasanul Haq Inu further said while the turnover tax imposed on harmful sectors like the tobacco sector is 1%, it is 2% in the mobile industry. This is ill-judged and needs to be brought down to less than 1%.
“In order to build a Digital Bangladesh, the VAT on the Internet needs to be lifted,” he said.
Senior officials of BTRC, NBR, and the mobile sector spoke in the policy dialogue.
Robi Axiata’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Officer Shahed Alam and Ericsson’s Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka’s Head of Network Solutions and Ericsson Bangladesh’s Country Manager Abdus Salam presented two keynotes on telecom policy and telecom ecosystem respectively.
Khalilur Rahman, PTD Secretary who was present at the event as special guest, said “We have taken some steps to further grow the telecom industry.”
“I am convinced that some tax needs to rationalised. I will discuss with NBR to address tax issues that hits customers bottom of the pyramid.”
The event’s another special guest, BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder, said, “We pursue the appropriate procedures to facilitate local and foreign enterprises to conduct their business in Bangladesh.”
M. Riyaaz Rasheed, Acting Chief Executive Officer and CFO of Robi, said the more players there are in the market, the lower the work efficiency of the operators.
“Comparing to our neighboring nations, the tax on Bangladesh’s mobile sector is considerably higher,” Shahed Alam remarked in his keynote.
“However, the operators’ return on investment is insufficient. On the one hand, the operators’ average income per user is lower, while the cost of mobile voice and mobile internet is one of the lowest in the world,” he said.
In the other keynote, Abdus Salam said, “Network capabilities are evolving, services are being developed and adopted in our lifestyle and across the industries.”
Taimur Rahman, Chief Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Officer, Banglalink, said, "Telecom operators are among the major contributors to the materialisation of the Government's Digital Bangladesh vision.”
Grameenphone CCAO (Acting) Hossain Sadat said, “We have tried to draw our attention to policymakers to address the high tax issue. We have to invest huge CAPEX investments every year.”
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Moniruzzaman Jewel, Director General of Spectrum Division of BTRC, M. Riyaaz Rasheed, Acting Chief Executive Officer and CFO of Robi; and Sumon Ahmed Sabir, Chief Technology Officer of Fiber at Home also spoke at the event.