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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 13:37 GMT
Bangladesh mobile phone tariff criticised
Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited advertisement
The tariffs make cheap phones more expensive
Bangladesh's mobile phone operators have condemned a new tariff on imported handsets, claiming it will hurt the industry's growth by making phones too expensive for many people.

The government last week imposed a flat rate tariff of 4,000 taka (48.50) to prevent tax evasion and raise revenues, The tariff replaced a tax that covered import duty, value added tax and licence fees.

"About 90% of the country's cellphone subscribers use cheaper sets," said Faisal Morshed Khan, managing director of Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited, the country's pioneering mobile operator.

Mobile phones had cost between 7,000 and 35,000 taka but under the new tariff the cheapest costs about 8,200 while the cost of the most expensive fell to 25,000 taka.

Mr Khan said market growth depended on the lower-to-middle-income group, who would be greatly discouraged by the new tariff.

Review demanded

Officials of the Telecom Operators Association of Bangladesh said it would ask the government to review the decision.

The revenue officials said the government also introduced fees for users who change their phone or SIM (subscriber identification module) card.

Bangladesh's four private mobile phone operators have about 700,000 subscribers, out of a population of 130 million, compared with only 590,000 fixed phone lines provided by state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).

The rise of mobile phone use has undercut the revenues of the BTTB.

The BBC's Moazzem Hussa in Bangladesh
"The present system of collecting duties allows locals to evade it."
See also:

15 Jan 02 | Business
Bangladesh textile sector in crisis
04 Jan 02 | Business
Bangladeshi jute bag demand soars
08 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh gets no trade favours
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