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Budget undermined role of telecom sector: operators
AMTOB leaders at a press briefing held on budget reaction at Sonargaon Hotel in the city.

Budget undermined role of telecom sector: operators

Dhaka, June 18 (UNB)- Stating that the newly placed National Budget for FY 2019-20 is going against the vision of digital Bangladesh, The Association of Mobile Telecommunication Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) urged the government reconsider it in the telecom sector.

AMTOB leaders came up with the request in a press briefing held on budget reaction at Sonargaon Hotel in the city where representatives of mobile operators were present.

The notable changes in the 2019 tax proposals, defined in the budget, are- supplementary duty on services provided through mobile phone SIM/RIM card raised from 5 percent to 10 percent; SIM tax raised from BDT 100 to BDT 200; 15% tax on retained earnings for listed companies; minimum tax for mobile companies raised from 0.75 percent to 2 percent of turnover; and import duty on smartphones increased from 10 percent to 25 percent, they said.

They observed that the new tax policy would burden the existing and new customers with additional costs. AMTOB has also requested the NBR to reduce the appeal charge on any financial disputes from the current 30 percent to 10 percent.

In this backdrop, imposition of minimum tax of 0.75 percent on turnover meant that three investors were forced to pay 0.75 percent of their revenue, even though they were making a loss.

Furthermore, imposition of 15% Tax on retained earnings has wide implications on publically listed MNCs and local conglomerates. The new tax will compel companies to pay out higher dividends to keep their reserves at minimum, thus reducing funds for future investment. Tax on retained earnings is double taxation, as listed companies already pay up to 42.5 percent corporate tax and the new law would be an additional 15 percent tax on its year end reserves, they said.

AMTOB asserted that rather than supporting this vital industry further, the Government has decided to add to the back-breaking tax structure. “We are utterly disappointed to note that the proposed national budget has undermined the significant contribution made by the telecom industry in implementing the vision of Digital Bangladesh.”, the leaders said.

The raising of the SIM tax from BDT 100 to BDT 200 would double the burden on new connections and SIM replacement, said AMTOB Secretary General, Brig Gen S M Farhad (Retd.).

AMTOB hoped that the Government would reconsider the budget proposal in favor of the industry.

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