Cellcos decry new tax plan

16 Jan 2009

Haiti’s mobile operators, Digicel, Voila and Haitel, have joined together to denounce planned taxation changes to the Telecommunications Act of 2002 which appear in the government’s draft 2008-09 budget, reports Radio Kiskeya in Port-au-Prince. In arguments presented to the local press, the trio said they believe that the government’s decision to establish new taxes on telecoms services will not increase state revenue as planned, but will instead lead to lower usage due to increased end-user tariffs, in turn leading to lower tax payments. Reportedly, under the proposed new tax structure, on top of an existing standard HTG4.7 (USD0.12) per minute call charge (with a 10% revenue tax already factored in), subscribers will pay an additional HTG3.6 per minute for local calls and HTG4 per minute for international calls.

Over the past ten years more than USD600 million has been invested in networks and services by the three mobile operators, which directly employ over 2,000 people, with around 55,000 indirect jobs also dependent on the sector. The telecoms sector was the main source of tax revenue over the past decade. For the fiscal year 2007-08 its contribution represented 28% of the total revenue of the General Tax Directorate (DGI), the Haitian institution for the collection of taxes. The cellular industry also invests more than USD7 million per year in social projects.