The telecommunication industry was brought under renewed taxation in the budget, with cellular towers and mass SMS advertising becoming liable to further charges.
“Proliferation of cellular towers is both an environmental and a health hazard. As such, we will also impose a Cellular Tower Levy of Rs. 200,000 per tower per month to discourage the proliferation of such towers,” Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said..
He noted that there are currently around 50,000 such towers spread across the country.
The government had last year attempted to introduce the Google Loon project to address the need for further digital connectivity in rural areas without resorting to further cellular towers, but the ambitious project ran into difficulties.
Meanwhile, Samaraweera introduced a 25 cent tax on mass-delivered SMS advertising messages. Such messages usually violate the privacy of citizens, but the government’s planned data protection laws to address this have run into delays in formulation.
The telecom industry was relieved of taxation on data services in September, under the policy to drive digitalization in the country.