National Board of Revenue chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan on Monday called upon the country’s mobile phone operators to pay their arrears and settle the pending disputes related to revenue through alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
‘Pay the outstanding taxes and we will see how to provide benefits to you,’ he told officials of mobile operators at a pre-budget discussion with the Association of Mobile Telephone Operators of Bangladesh at NBR headquarters.
Representatives of AMTOB placed a set of proposals including withdrawal of value-added tax, supplementary duty and surcharge on internet services, reduction of duties on import of 4G enabled mobile handsets and removal of disparity in corporate income tax among different sectors.
Mosharraf said that the mobile operators owed NBR huge amount of taxes and it was not positive for the image of telecom industry.
‘Adopt ADR to settle disputes as keeping the disputes pending is not good for any of the parties,’ he said.
Revenue mobilisation has been delayed and business activities of operators have also been hampered along with counting costs in running cases in courts, he said.
The revenue board will streamline the sector-wise corporate tax structure in the upcoming national budget for the fiscal year 2018-2019, he said, adding that the businesses of tobacco companies and telecom operators were not same in nature and utility.
Officials said that telecom operators owed NBR Tk 5,000 crore in outstanding taxes, most of which has remained stuck due to cases pending at courts.
Robi chief executive officer Mahtab Uddin Ahmed demanded withdrawal of import duty on 4G mobile sets for the next two to three years to meet the demand of 4G enabled sets in the country and increase access of subscribers to 4G internet services.
Banglalink finance controller Abid Hossain Khan demanded withdrawal of VAT, SD and surcharge on internet services to expand internet penetration in the country.
Currently, a total of 21.75 per cent VAT, SD and surcharge are applicable on internet services. He also demanded withdrawal of 0.75 per cent minimum income tax on total sales receipts as the tax is being also imposed on loss making enterprises.
Robi regulatory affairs head Shahed Alam said that the revenue collection would increase if NBR had withdrawn taxes on internet services as the use of internet would increase due to reduction in cost. Currently, internet penetration rate is only 18 per cent in the country, he said.
He also said that 4G internet service would not be viable for the mobile operators unless the cost was reduced.
AMTOB secretary general TIM Nurul Kabir, among others, also attended the meeting.
Earlier in a separate meeting with NBR, Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA) demanded reduction of duties and taxes on import of raw materials for ceramic industries, prevention of under-invoicing by commercial importers, and withdrawal of 15 per cent supplementary duty on tiles at production stage to promote and protect local industries.
Bangladesh Beverage Manufacturers Association (BBMA) demanded reduction of supplementary duty to 15 per cent from existing 25 per cent for soft drinks so that the sector could grow fast. The association said that the sector had great potential to grow as the per capita consumption was very low in the country.
BCMEA president M Sirajul Islam Molla, vice-preisdnet Moinul Islam and member Sk Bashir Uddin and BBMA secretary Shamima Akter, among others, spoke at the meeting.
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