A group of ICT trade bodies today reiterated demands of lowering the cost of internet and criticised the government for not having internet-friendly measures in the budget plan.
“The existing VAT and duty structure on internet service will, in no way, assist the complete digitalisation plan by 2021,” said Syed Almas Kabir, president of Bangladesh Association of Software andInformation Services (BASIS).
There is a 15 per cent VAT, 5 per cent supplementary duty, and 2 per cent surcharge on internet use – what the ICT trade bodies have been demanding wavier of. They say, it is a big burden on the overall industry and internet users.
However, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, while unveiling his budget plan for fiscal 2018-19, did not include any measure that will assist the internet-based industry to grow further. It is to be noted that, in 2017, export of ICT-related products fetched US $800 million.
At a press conference in Dhaka, the ICT trade bodies also criticised the 0.5 per cent hike in VAT on ICT service sector, which will push up the existing structure to 5 per cent.
“This will curb the development in our technology sector,” Kabir said.
Additionally, they said the reduction in existing customs charge on software imports – that has been proposed to be lowered from 25 per cent to 5 per cent – will have a dangerous impact on the domestic software manufacturing industry.
“If this customs charge is lowered then the local software companies will become extinct,” he said, adding that such measure should be applicable only for operating system, database, development tools and cyber-security software which Bangladesh lacks in producing.