NBR officials asked to expedite move to impose fees on foreign TV channels

August 31, 2014

The National Board of Revenue has asked its officials to speed up the process of imposition of fees on foreign satellite channels as charge for entering Bangladesh.
Expressing dissatisfaction over delay in taking steps in this regard, NBR chairman Ghulam Hussain has recently instructed income tax and value-added tax officials to urgently talk to the ministries of information, commerce, and information and communication technology over the issue.
A committee of the revenue board on April 1 decided to impose a fee of Tk 20 crore on every foreign satellite channel for entering Bangladesh and to form an inter-ministerial committee to digitise cable distribution system for ensuring revenue collection and creating a level-playing field for local satellite channels.
The committee consisting of NBR officials and representatives from the Association of Television Channel Owners of Bangladesh also decided that the revenue board would also issue a clarification on collecting VAT on advertisement being broadcast on local channels as channel owners are facing problems in collecting VAT from advertisers.
The committee put the responsibility of communicating with the ministries concerned to implement the decisions to VAT and income tax wings of the NBR.
But even after five months of making the decision, NBR officials concerned did not take steps in this connection.
Against the backdrop, the NBR chairman on August 12 asked the officials to request immediately the information ministry for imposing Tk 20 crore on every foreign television channel and write down the commerce ministry for forming an inter-ministerial committee to digitise cable distribution system in the country.
He also instructed the central intelligence cell of the NBR to monitor the advertisement being broadcast on foreign channels by Bangladeshi companies and look after the bill payment system of the companies to ensure tax collection from the sector.
On a note on the committee’s decision, Ghulam also instructed the NBR officials to be more responsible about such important issues.
The NBR officials said they could not implement the decisions on time as they were busy with national budget preparations.
Now they will move with the issue, they told the NBR chairman.
The committee led by NBR member (income tax policy) Syed Aminul Karim made the decision in line with the instruction given by finance minister AMA Muhith to create a level-playing field for local channels, ensure revenue collection and protect local culture from the aggression of foreign channels, mostly of Indian.
The issue came in front as Bangladeshi TV channels could not get their programmes downlinked in India due to several restrictions including a large amount of fee imposed by Indian authorities, while Indian channels are freely operating in Bangladesh without paying any tax, causing uneven competition for Bangladeshi channels.

-With New Age input

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