LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Tag Archives: tax

Explaining why the government’s tower levy proposal is impractical on a government TV channel

Sri Lanka has not one, but two, government-owned TV channels. They tend to be used for propaganda, but there are occasions when they act like normal news channels, serving the public interest in understanding what is going on. Last week, for example, I was happy to be on a talk show in the midst of […]

When people don’t understand technology and investment decisions, silly mistakes are made

It was in 1998, almost 20 years ago, that I was invited to a meeting at the Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka in my capacity as Director General of Telecommunications. They had identified a high point in the city of Colombo to locate ALL the cellular antenna towers and they wanted me to concur […]

Another cogitation on punitive taxes imposed on mobile networks

As I was thinking about how to explain the silliness of charging LKR 200,000 (USD 1,300) per antenna tower per month as proposed by Sri Lanka’s 2018 Budget, I came across this piece on how African governments were shooting themselves in the foot by following the Willie Sutton doctrine: Unfortunately, instead of seizing such opportunities, […]

As India gears up for GST, many question high rate for a “necessity” (telecom services)

The introduction of GST to replace the patchwork of state taxes is perhaps the Modi government’s greatest economic achievement. The new regime is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2017. Like everything in India, it’s complicated, with multiple bands and exceptions. It’s interesting that the 18 percent GST rate for telecom services is […]

Pakistan lowers mobile taxes

They were extremely high to start with. But still, a good thing. Sri Lanka should be careful we don’t take over Pakistan’s position as the most taxed ICT sector. The breaks will see the withholding tax on mobile services drop from 14% to 12.5%, while federal excise duty will fall from 18.5% to 17%. With […]

Government should consult with those who know, before making ecommerce policies

The ill-considered proposal in the 2017 Budget to compel all e commerce transactions to be conducted over a yet-to-be-designed government platform has come up for discussion again. Lahiru Pathmalal, CEO of Takas, one of the Sri Lanka’s more visible e-commerce businesses had this to say to the Sunday Times: “What is ideal is a tax […]

Thoughts on taxes on mobile services

We’ve written a lot about taxes on this site. We’ve even showcased studies that showed optimal revenues for government were not obtained by raising taxes. But the current Finance Minister in Sri Lanka does not appear to hear any of this. But we keep hoping. So here is another nuanced contribution from Gabe Solomons. More […]

Governments tax, users respond rationally

It has become increasingly common for developing-country governments to extract rents from what they think is an easy target, international communication. After all, the people affected don’t vote in their elections, even if they are in many cases, hardworking expat workers who keep the home economies afloat. But telecom users are not stupid. They have […]

Evidence on excessive taxes on Internet being counterproductive

Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva refers to evidence showing Internet taxes are counterproductive and says current excessive taxes are temporary. Video of interview.

LIRNEasia contributes to discussion on platforms and taxes

Based on work done on electronic trading in ASEAN and extrapolation from the online freelancing research, I contributed some thoughts on budget proposals to create a government-run platform to collect taxes. That has been picked up in subsequent articles. In the face of government highhandedness, global e-commerce giants have in the past opted not to […]

Does telecom use not “directly help people” in Myanmar?

Imposing an additional tax on a specific good or service results in the reduction of its use. Generally, this is recommended for demerit goods such as alcohol and tobacco. In Myanmar, the government appears to believe telecom is a demerit good, collecting a five percent tax from all telecom bills since April 2016. The President […]

Here are the taxation-relevant findings from LIRNEasia’s systematic review research

The evidence is strong about positive impacts on livelihoods from simply the connectivity enabled by existence of mobile networks in rural areas. With regard to information services provided over those networks, by the government or by the private sector, the evidence is not as clear. It’s not that the evidence shows no positive impact, but […]

Media coverage for e commerce and tax related comments at dissemination event

Our intention was to introduce the Digital Dividends report of the World Bank and disseminate related research conducted by LIRNEasia. We made the headlines in two newspapers but the focus was the controversy around excessive taxes more than on the research. But I was happy there was at least one quotation that referred to the […]

Sri Lanka budget provisions on data taxation questioned

So the Daily Mirror, the leading English language daily, carried my comments on the illogical tax proposals. “Around 2010, the Government considered the complexity of taxes affecting the telecommunication sector and exempted telecom from the Value Added Tax. Instead a twenty percent tax was imposed for telecommunication which was remitted to the Government” said Former […]

Rich discussion on Sri Lanka government’s increased taxes on Internet use

Following the online posting of my articles on the government’s 2017 Budget proposals affecting the ICT sector a rich discussion occurred over Twitter, which included participation and fact gathering by one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists, Namini Wijedasa who writes in the highest circulation English newspaper. Thanks mostly to a valiant social media spokesperson from […]

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