• Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Govt mulls settling SIM replacement VAT issue before 4G auction

Govt mulls settling SIM replacement VAT issue before 4G auction
The government is considering that it would resolve the VAT related case in connection with SIM replacement ahead of 4G auction through External Resources Division. According to industry insiders, before 3G auction in 2013, the government took such move to resolve the case in the wake of threat that the operators would boycott 3G spectrum auction if the VAT issue was not settled. But later the subject didn’t proceed further. Since Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is planning to float the 4G auction by this year, the government has taken a further initiative to bring four mobile operators into the upcoming auction. Initially, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is thinking about two options. Primarily, it will request VAT appellate division for quick decision, and secondly, the finance minister can inform law minister as well as attorney general of the case to resolve the case quickly. According to provision 55(3) of VAT law 1991, mobile operators will pay VAT while they sell any SIM. Capture The authorities concerned informed Finance Minister AMA Muhith about the VAT issue relating to SIM replacement at a meeting. Muhith agreed to resolve the matter lawfully. According to the operators, they pay VAT while selling SIM, but they do not pay VAT when a subscriber approaches them to replace SIMs because VAT is paid off during SIM sale. But NBR says operators have dodged VAT in the name of SIM replacement. Initially, NBR asked four mobile operators to pay Tk3,062.31 crore. Later, it reduced the amount to Tk3,010.99 crore, but the mobile phone operators declined to pay the reduced amount, saying they did nothing illegal while replacing SIMs. Finally, as of December 2014, NBR claimed Tk2,464.88 crore as dues from four mobile operators and fixed a date for hearing on the issue, but without paying heed to the NBR claim, the operators filed writ with the High Court. Welcoming the government move to resolve the VAT related case, Ekram Kabir, vice-president (Communications and Corporate Responsibility), Robi Axiata Limited, said: “We appreciate the government initiative.” Banglalink, however, declined to make any comment on it as the subject is under trial while Grameenphone didn’t respond to this matter. Nurul Kabir, secretary general, Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), a national trade body representing all mobile-phone operators in the country, said NBR claim was fictitious. The matter turned so complex due to lack of right initiatives, he added. “We think the government should resolve the matter quickly with rationale so that foreign investors become interested in further investment in the country’s telecommunication sector.” said Kabir.
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