Telecom operators see the new budget proposal of imposing 5 per cent supplementary duty on mobile use as alarming for the future of the sector.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith proposed such duty when he placed in parliament the national budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, users complain that mobile operators have already started implementing the proposal by imposing additional charges on mobile voice calls and other services.
The National Board of Revenue issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) shortly after the Finance Minister's budget speech. Receiving the SRO, the mobile operators immediately started updating their billing system, complying with the order, according to a senior official of a telecom operator.
Robi Axiata, a private telecom operator, gave their reaction to the Daily Observer on Saturday about the additional taxation over mobile services.
"The budgetary proposal is very confronting with the government's vision to build a technology-savvy Digital Bangladesh. Mobile is the driving force to reach the goal. The additional 5 percent service duty will create pressure on the users of mobile services," said Ekram Kabir, Robi Axiata's Vice President.
Ekram also voiced his concern over its impact on future growth of the telecom sector. "There are over 12 crore mobile users in the country and the number is growing. Bangladesh is going to a progressive future through a mobile-driven economy. At this moment, such new burden of taxation will slow the growth of mobile subscribers," he said.
Grameenphone's External Communications Deputy Director Sayed Talat Kamal said, "We're definitely concerned that this 5 per cent supplement tax may negatively affect our customers' usage patterns. This may hamper the spread of internet services, hindering the government's own vision to create a digital Bangladesh."
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) considered the proposal as the state's decision. "BTRC is not responsible for taxation. National Board of Revenue will decide on the additional taxation," a BTRC official said, declining to elaborate on the new proposal.
Under the new proposal, users will have to pay Tk 20.75 including 15 per cent VAT and 5 per cent supplementary duty on a Tk 100 bill, whereas previously they only had to pay Tk 15 as VAT.