Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said he will seriously reconsider the existing 15 percent VAT on internet usage in the upcoming budget -- a longstanding demand of the industry as it would give digitisation a boost.
“I promise to seriously consider the issue in the next budget as it will be the last budget of my career,” Muhith said at the inauguration of the BASIS SoftExpo 2018 held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Muhith's comment came in response to ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar's request to withdraw the value-added tax.
The country might lose out on Tk 100 crore but it will gain Tk 1,000 crore if VAT upon internet usage is lessened, Jabbar said.
“Therefore, as a minister myself, I request the finance minister to consider the amount of VAT on internet usages,” he added.
Affordability is a very big concern when it comes to internet usage in Bangladesh and withdrawing or reducing VAT is very important, said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh. “This is a wonderful decision and this decision will push the economic development,” he added.
Withdrawal of VAT or even cuts in the rate will reduce costs for end users, said MA Hakim, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh.
“We are welcoming this decision,” he said, while requesting the government to revisit the revenue-sharing structure as well.
The four-day BASIS SoftExpo 2018 kicked-off yesterday with the slogan “Designing the Future”. More than 180 companies, including European and Singaporean ones, are attending about 50 business-to-business matchmaking sessions in the showcase, according to organisers.
In his speech, Muhith also underscored the need for a specific city or area with all sorts of facilities, including WiFi, to boost the information communication and technology sector.
BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir chaired the inaugural session.