Govt decides to impose 1 percent surcharge on mobile phone use

The Cabinet approved the proposal at a meeting on Monday.

“The proposal to impose a one-percent surcharge on the total income accrued from all services available through a SIM or RIM card provided by mobile-phone operators has been approved,” Cabinet Secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the regular Cabinet meeting.

This will give the government an additional Tk 1.4 billion in revenue, the secretary said.

“This money will be spent on the development of the health and education sectors.”

The government has traditionally levied surcharges when it wants to raise money for a certain purpose. During the construction of the Jamuna bridge, surcharge was levied on bus and train and cinema tickets.

The budget for FY 14-15 did not propose to impose a surcharge on mobile-phone use.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith had favoured levying 15 percent VAT, up from the existing 10, on the import of mobile phones to “help the local industry flourish”.

During the budget discussion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had sought review of some tariffs and proposed the imposition of surcharge on mobile-phone use.

Funds raised from this surcharge would be spent on education and health, she had told Parliament.

Muhith included the suggestion in the Finance Bill-2014, though the details were yet to be laid out.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) proposed a one-percent surcharge and forwarded it to the finance ministry.

The decision will come into effect once a circular is issued by the government.

The cabinet secretary said the proposal had been discussed with mobile operators.

“NBR has shown that mobile-phone users spend on an average Tk 200 every month. The surcharge therefore will be Tk 2 per month,” he said.

“So SIM users will pay Tk 2 a month, but the government will earn Tk 1.4 billion in a year.”

According to the telecom regulator, BTRC, there are 110 million mobile-phone connections in Bangladesh, although they do not all stay active at the same time.

“It’s not just voice calls, the surcharge will apply to all services aggregated,” the secretary said.

“So the individual consumer won’t feel any pressure at all.”

Source: Bd news24


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