Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL) has returned its submissions on the Income Tax Bill 2015 to the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights, noting in particular its numerous concerns over the payment of fees under the new legislation. In its report, TFL argues that the levy could be ruled anti-competitive as companies offering voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony are exempt from the fees. The telco’s CFO Vinit Chand also pointed out that the company currently pays around FJD12,000 (USD5,723) per month in levies, but is being disadvantaged as the levy only applies to traditional voice operators and not VoIP providers. Not only is TFL arguing for a quarterly (rather than a monthly) fee to reduce admin costs, but Chand says that it should also have access to the fees collected by the government in order to promote investment in non-viable areas. In addition, the CFO noted that: ‘TFL operates a lot of USO [universal service obligation] sites, especially under satellite and CDMA [code division multiple access)], which number more than 150 uneconomical sites.’ Given that these sites include voice call services as the major component, TFL argues that they too should be exempt from the telecoms levy. ‘Further, this levy in future may need to be reviewed noting worldwide telco voice trend is decreasing and now there is more focus on data revenue,’ he said.
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