Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando yesterday paid tribute to Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera for removing the Telecommunications Levy on pre-paid data services.
“The Telecommunications Levy on data services was removed with effect from September 1, 2017. Thank God for that,” Fernando said. He said that he was afraid of being criticized for promoting digitalization while taxing such services. “Fortunately for us, we were able to get that out when the new Finance Minister took up office. We were able to convince him to leave it out,” Fernando said.
Samaraweera took up the portfolio of Finance and Mass Media this May in a Cabinet reshuffle, which saw Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake taking up Samaraweera’s former portfolio of Foreign Affairs.
Karunanayake resigned from his position as a Cabinet Minister last month for his alleged links to Perpetual Treasuries owner Arjun Aloysius, who is under investigation for alleged rigging of the country’s bond market using inside information.
Karunanayake had attempted to add a further 15 percent to the Telecommunications Levy on data services to increase the total liable levy to 25 percent under the 2017 budget. He later cited a dubious reason for this budget proposal, saying that telecom operators had requested him to do so because their traditional businesses were being overshadowed by data services. However, upon Samaraweera removing the 10 percent Telecommunications Levy on data services for pre-paid customers, all telecom companies mobilized to add 10 percent bonus data on both pre-paid and post-paid packages.
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