The nation’s second-largest mobile phone operator Robi Axiata is adamantly against the slapping of minimum 2 per cent tax on the sector.
The mobile phone operator demanded that the provision should be withdrawn in the national budget for the next fiscal year of 2021-22.
Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, Robi’s managing director and chief executive officer, made the comment at an online press briefing held on April 28.
He stated that, ‘Due to the high taxation regime and high spectrum price, the company realized only Tk 380 crore in profits in the last 22 years against its Tk 26,838 crore in investments in Bangladesh.’
It was stated by Mahtab that due to the enforcement of the minimum 2 per cent turnover tax, the applicable tax on the operator was 73 per cent.
He stated that, ‘Even though the telecom operators are contributing in many ways to the country’s economy and to the digitization process, the high taxation on the telecom companies suggests as if we are even more harmful than the tobacco companies.’
‘For instance, the applicable minimum turnover tax on tobacco is 1 per cent, on alcohol 0.6 per cent, but it’s 2 per cent on mobile network operators,’ Mahtab stated adding that the taxation rate was unfair, irrational and discriminatory.
He stated that the provision of minimum turnover tax on telecom operators should be revoked in the upcoming fiscal year of 2021-2022 so that the telecom operators can invest more for the development of the sector.
He also stated that the mobile operator got enlisted on the nation’s stock exchanges amid assurances from different government high-ups that the tax rate for Robi would be reduced, but the promise has yet to be put into practice.
In no other countries, where Robi’s parent company Axiata has operations, the entity is facing such high taxation and so subsidiaries of Axiata in other countries are making higher profits, Mahtab claimed.
In 2020, Robi generated Tk 155 crore in profits while the National Board of Revenue received Tk 3,035 crore from the operator and the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission received Tk 1,201 crore. The company’s revenue was Tk 7,564 crore in the year.
Shahid Alam. Robi’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory officer, stated that the operator was unable to make desired profits because of the minimum 2 per cent taxation provision.