Govt asked to relax over-taxation, The Financial Express, February 13, 2013

Date: 13 February 2013


The government has been suggested to relax the existing over-taxation on telecommunication sector for the smooth growth of the industry.

Policymakers and private stakeholders of the industry made the suggestion while addressing a conference organised by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) on “Future of the Telecom Sector in Bangladesh and its Contribution to the Realisation of Vision 2021” in the city Tuesday.

They also laid emphasis on collecting efforts both from the government and private sectors for further expansion of internet penetration throughout the country.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Advocate Shara Khatun was the chief guest at the conference, while BEI President Farooq Sobhan moderated it.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Mostafa Farooq Mohammed and Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu also addressed the conference.

The issues that get priority in the discussion were over taxation on telecom sector, technology neutrality, internet penetration problem, barrier to access to information, cost and affordability.

The stakeholders think over taxation is one of the main barriers for the smooth growth of the telecom sector, as it discourages multinational companies to invest here.

Addressing the conference, Advocate Shara Khatun said present government will extend all out cooperation to the sector to accelerate digitalisation process across the country.

ICT Minister Mostafa Farooq Mohammed opined that less tax on telecom service will bring high revenue to the government.

Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said that internet should be included in the constitution as basic right.

He thinks future development of the sector will be internet based, so government should consider some issues including over taxation for the betterment of the sector.

“I am also disappointed over tax complexity of the finance ministry,” he said, and added, government should lift 15 per cent value added tax (VAT) on internet use.

Speaking at the occasion as the key note speaker, Founding chair of LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based regional think-tank, Rohan Samarajiva said Bangladesh has done extremely well in the voice services but its internet penetration is very low and challenging.

He said that the time has come for the government to invest in building high-speed cellular data network infrastructure.

Addressing the conference, Chairman of BTRC Sunil Kanti Bose said both telecom and ICT ministry are jointly working for the development of the sector.

AMTOB President and CEO of Robi Michael Kuehner talked about technology efficiency and focused on mobile banking, health and education sectors which will be benefitted following technology development.

Summarising the points of the speakers, President of BEI Farooq Sobhan stressed the need for joint efforts of five ministries including finance ministry and the private stakeholders for the development of the sector.