GSMA lobbies Bangladesh on tax

The GSM Association today published a study it commissioned from consultants CRA International and lawyers Gilbert & Tobin, which apparently shows that Bangladesh would do well to cut its taxes on the mobile phone industry. Currently, there are duties payable on capital equipment, handsets, and even SIM cards.

There is also a peculiar set of rules on mobile-fixed interconnection, under which the mobile operators essentially subsidise the fixed-line sector, specifically the state-owned incumbent whose inability to install fixed lines makes everyone so keen on mobiles. Unsurprisingly, the GSMA reckons both of these aren’t terribly wise, nor the arrangement under which everyone’s international calls go through a state-run international gateway.

Further, they argue, Bangladesh’s spectrum policy isn’t too hot – they haven’t allocated the 2.1GHz IMT2000 band yet, nor issued 3G licences. No one will be surprised to hear that the GSMA thinks they ought to earmark it for UMTS, either.

“There is extensive evidence that the widespread use of mobile phones can boost economic growth, raise living standards and reduce poverty,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA. “This report sets out the short-term and long-term steps Bangladesh needs to take to enable mobile telecommunications to realise its full potential to increase the efficiency of the domestic economy, as well as improving Bangladeshi citizens and businesses’ access to global markets.”

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