Saifur slams cell phone operators.

Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman yesterday came down heavily on the private cellphone operators for charging high call tariff.

Mobile phone operators in Bangladesh charge four times higher call tariff in comparison with Indian cellphone operators, the minister said speaking in parliament on the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year.

He said the local mobile phone companies also receive higher subscription fees ranging from Tk 500 to Tk 700. “They have incoming call charge which does not exist anywhere in the world,” the minister said amid table thumping by lawmakers.

The finance minister criticised the cellphone operators’ demand for withdrawal of Tk 1,200 tax on new connection, which was proposed in the budget for 2005-06.

The mobile phone companies charge high call tariff but blame the government whenever it asks for anything, he added.

Justifying the proposed tax, Saifur said there was no tax hike in the mobile phone sector, rather it was an adjustment against reduction of duty on handsets.

In the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the government has reduced the handset import duty to Tk 300 from Tk 1,500 previously.

Saifur brushed aside the apprehension that the growth of mobile phone sector would slow down after imposition of the new tax.

“As many as 16 new companies are in the queue and we can earn Tk 1,000 crore to Tk 1,500 crore through auction [cellular phone licence],” he added.

Citing example of Pakistan and Tunisia, he said that they have earned $400 million to $500 million from the cellphone licence.

Saifur said people once could not even buy a connection for Tk 50,000 but the scenario has changed after the launch of Teletalk. “It has brought a competition in the sector.”
Source: The Daily Star.

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