Mobile phone users might have to spend more as the National Board of Revenue is expected to seek a hike in the supplementary duty (SD) on calls, data and other services in the coming fiscal year, said officials.

At present, the users have to bear 15 percent VAT, 5 percent SD and 1 percent surcharge on their bill for phone calls, data and other usage. The rate of SD is likely to go up to 10 percent, said finance ministry officials.

The revenue collector plans to place the proposal in parliament today to attain the likely revenue collection target of Tk 325,600 crore, 16 percent higher than the re-vised collection target of Tk 280,000 crore in the outgoing fiscal year.

The government first slapped the SD on mobile phone usage at 3 percent in the fiscal year 2015-16 and increased the SD to 5 percent later.

Mobile phone is one of the biggest sources of revenue after cigarette and trade VAT, according to NBR’s 2016-17 annual report.

Officials expect that this measure would increase revenue generation. However, industry insiders fear that it would discourage cell phones use.

Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer at Robi, said if tax is in-creased, it will directly affect users and ultimately lead to a gradual decline in overall phone usage.

“The government may think that they will get more revenue from this incremental tax, but in the long run, this will negatively impact on the government’s revenue,” he said.

There were 16.09 crore mobile connections in the country as of April this year, ac-cording to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Besides, to encourage owners of undisclosed money and inject the money into formal channel, the NBR is also likely to reduce specific tax on purchase of resi-dential buildings and flats in city corporations and district headquarters, said offi-cials. 

Now, taxmen accept investments in residential buildings and flats without ques-tioning the source of fund, if anyone purchases houses paying Tk 700 to Tk 7,000 per square metre tax in city corporations and district headquarters.

A senior official said tax is planned to reduce, as responses from black money holders have so far been lukewarm since its introduction in 2013.

Realtors said people with undeclared wealth do not show interest in availing themselves of the opportunity, fearing that other agencies would question their sources of funds.


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