Mobile operators start raising SIM price

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Grameenphone has increased price of pre-paid SIM cards to Tk200 each while other mobile phone operators are expected to follow the same path shortly.

The price hike comes after the proposed national budget didn’t pay heed to the operators’ demand of SIM tax withdrawal, rather added SIM replacement tax.

In a recent post-budget meeting, Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) decided to increase the prices saying the newly imposed Tk100 replacement tax was an “added pressure” on them while they had to pay Tk300 regular tax for a SIM sold to customers at Tk188.

Grameenphone raised SIM price to Tk200 from Tk188 and replacement price to Tk125 from Tk75.

It said the price hike should be regarded as effective from June 18, 2014, said a statement issued yesterday.

The price of the post-paid SIMs will, however, remain unchanged.

The budget for next fiscal beginning from July will be passed in parliament this months.

Grameenphone is the largest mobile phone company in Bangladesh.

AMTOB sources said they demanded withdrawal of SIM tax of Tk300, but the demand was not taken into account in the proposed budget.

Then it called meeting and decided to raise SIM prices although set no specific date from which the hike would be effective leaving the matter with the operators’ individual decisions.

AMTOB discussed the matter at a meeting and initially decided to increase the SIM price and replacement charge, the industry sources said.

“We have discussed about the increase of SIM price and replacement charge, but fixed no time for implementation,” a senior executive of a mobile phone operator told the Dhaka Tribune asking not to be named as he is not the authority for comment to the media on the issue.

In FY2010-11, the SIM tax was set at Tk800 prompting the mobile phone operators to increase the price to Tk900. But the operators didn’t implement the increased price in order to stay in competition.

In FY2011-12, the government reduced the SIM tax to Tk600 and then to Tk300 in March 2013 by a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO).

Grameenphone said Bangladesh’s mobile companies are offering the lowest call tariff in the world, but the operators still have to pay Tk55 from every Tk100 income to the government.

“We believe that imposition of a new tax on SIM replacement while retaining the Tk300 SIM tax on all new connections will hamper further penetration of mobile connectivity and hinder the realization of Digital Bangladesh,” Grameenphone’s release stated.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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