Political leaders and mobile phone customers on Saturday urged the government to cancel its uniform floor rate decision that has made the mobile users pay more for phone calls.
The uniform floor rate of Tk 0.45 per minute came into effect from 12:01am on August 14 following a Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission order.
The Bangladesh Cell Phone Costumers Association on Saturday organised a human chain in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka, demanding cancellation of the decision.
Some leaders of left political parties joined the protest programme to show solidarity with the consumers’ platform.
The left leaders also demanded that the users be given back the additional money they paid for mobile calls since the introduction of the new rate.
They said that the BTRC decision was an undemocratic one as the telecom regulator imposed the order keeping people in the dark.
The left leaders who expressed their solidarity with the BCPCA included Communist Party of Bangladesh leader Ruhin Hossain Prince, Ganosamhati Andolon chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, Socialist Party of Bangladesh leader Razekuzzaman Ratan, Samajtantrik Majdur Party general secretary Samsul Alam and its leader Kazi Amanullah Mahfuz.
BCPCA president Mohiuddin Ahmed presided over the protest programme.
Besides, leaders of Citizens Rights Movement at a press conference held at the Bangladesh Crime Reporters Association in the capital claimed that the BTRC imposed the order as its officials were ‘illegally benefited’ by the private cell phone operators.
Its secretary general Tushar Rahman demanded an immediate cancelation of the new call rate.
He also demanded that the government introduce a fresh floor rate of highest Tk 0.10 per minute with one-second pulse facility.
The organisation also demanded reducing the value-added tax on the mobile call to 10 per cent from the existing 15 per cent.
Former BTRC chairman Syed Margub Murshed and engineer M Enamul Haque were also present in the press conference.
The BTRC order has made the mobile phone calls costly for the majority of the customers as the uniform floor rate of Tk 0.45 per minute was introduced resetting the previous floor rates (Tk 0.25 per minute for on-net and Tk 0.60 per minute for off-net) and keeping the upper ceiling unchanged at Tk 2 per minute.
The government’s move that scrapped provision of separate rates for on-net (same network) and off-net (other network) calls came ahead of the launch of mobile number portability service.