The telecom ministry is planning to cut internet rates at users end and working on
a plan for reducing Vat and other tax to bring down the cost under the next fiscal budget of 2017-18. It aims at making the service cheaper.
State minister for telecom Tarana Halim told the media on Wednesday last in the city saying Bangladesh is the third lowest in the world in terms of internet pricing at end users’ level. The government is now trying to offer it at the lowest country.
She said the ministry is sending a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith requesting him to cut some of the taxes for internet in the next budget.
“In order to bring down the internet prices, a reduction in the government’s revenue sources, including VAT and other taxes, from the sector will be proposed,” she said making the point to reporters.
Currently, the end users have to pay 15 percent VAT, 5 percent supplementary duty
and 1 percent surcharge on their internet usage. The ministry is also exploring if a better revenue sharing model can be worked out for the mobile operators.
At present, mobile operators have to share 5.5 percent of their gross revenue with the telecom regulator. They also have to forward 1 percent of their gross revenue to the social obligation fund.
The telecom division will go for cuts either on the VAT and other taxes on internet usage or the mobile operators’ revenue sharing percentage. “We are trying to get an outcome within the next six months,” she said.
The telecom and gateway operators also have been asked to share their total costs for providing internet service to consumers within two days. Meanwhile, the minister has also asked mobile operators to stop their current practice of offering data packages at discounted rates or free of charge to those who occasionally use internet on their phones.
Rather, the regular mobile internet users should be rewarded with lower rates, she opined.
“Our main target is to reduce the cost of mobile internet usage as a huge number of users are accessing the internet through their handheld devices.”
As of February, the country’s total active internet connections stand at 12.96 crore.
Of the number, 5.93 crore are mobile internet connections, according to a report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.