Sri Lanka’s telecommunication and digital infrastructure minister Harin Fernando has requested that the Ministry of Finance remove the taxes imposed on smartphones in the upcoming national budget in order to promote the use of data by mobile users. Fernando pointed out that, compared to other countries, data usage in Sri Lanka is very low due to the lack of availability of mobile internet facilities, meaning that voice calls still predominate. ‘The use of voice calls in other countries is only 20%. We still use voice calls to a great extent. I requested the finance minister to remove all taxes imposed on smartphones. We are doing a detailed study on this matter and will submit the recommendations for the 2017 budget,’ he said. Additionally, when asked about VAT on mobile phones, Mr Fernando said the government was looking to alleviate some of the impact of this in the next budget, noting that he would submit recommendations on this matter as well. Finally, the minister confirmed that the Sri Lankan government is looking to allocate significant sums of money to improve telecommunication facilities, but that these development plans would not be possible without some taxation.
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